Certain blood pressure medications have been found to decrease symptoms of PTSD by up to 30 percent according to a study published in the May, 2012 issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Two types of medications, angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) were found to help.
ACE inhibitors are currently used to treat high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke prevention and prevention of kidney disease in those with hypertension and diabetes. These types of medications include:
These medications are not usually prescribe if you are pregnant because of the possibility of birth defects. Side effects include:
- Elevated potassium levels
- Low blood pressure
As with all medications, you should discuss the pros and cons of taking the medication with your doctor.
This type of blood pressure medication works by allowing blood vessels to dilate and thereby reducing blood pressure. This type of medication includes:
Side effects are similar to those of ACE medications although this medication is generally well tolerated by most people.
Why ACE and ARBs May Work on Anxiety
Both of these types of medication work to inhibit or interfere with angiotesin II, a hormone in our body which regulates blood pressure. The study examined how that hormone impacts (in mice) our brain’s response to fear and stress. Both medications are thought to decrease the body’s response to stress, both in the cardiovascular system and in the brain.
The findings in this study are preliminary, however, the senior author, Kerry Ressler, M.D. Ph.D., states, "These results are particularly exciting because it’s the first time ACE inhibitors and ARBs have been connected to PTSD and it gives us a new direction to build on."  Of course, further research is needed to determine if these types of medication can provide significant relief for those with PTSD, however, Ressler indicates, "This calls of medications has been widely prescribed for hypertension for years and their safety profiles are well known so our results could be translated into action relatively quickly."  In other words, if additional studies back up these findings, PTSD sufferers may have a new option, one without some of the common side effects of current anxiety medications, available to them.
ACE Inhibitors (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors), Date Unknown, Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD, MedicineNet.com
Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers, Date Unknown, Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD, Medicinet.com
 "Blood Pressure Drugs Linked with Lower PTSD Symptoms," 2012, May 1, Staff Writer, ScienceDaily.com
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.