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Why Pharmaceuticals Do Not Work For Treating PTSD?

During my career as a Psychologist, I have had the privilege of interviewing over 5,000 people with PTSD.

While I conduct psych evaluations, one of the questions I always ask my clients is, “Have you ever been prescribed medication for your PTSD, and do you feel it helped you?”

Why do I ask this? I am genuinely curious!  Because as a PTSD sufferer myself who has been prescribed over 17 different psych meds, I’ve never personally found relief in any of these medications.

But doctors prescribe them, so they must be safe, and effective right? 

Maybe, maybe not, but what we know for sure is that pharmaceuticals can have tremendous downsides. As I asked this question about meds during every PTSD evaluation I conducted (over 100 a month), the evidence began to point to an unexpected conclusion. You would think that a certain percentage of people would say “yes, my meds helped my PTSD symptoms”, but nobody ever has! A zero-point zero percent success rate out of thousands of trauma sufferers.

No one I have ever spoken with has been happy overall with pharmaceuticals for anxiety either; there are way too many side effects. The same goes for insomnia. Once in a while, someone will tell me their antidepressant helped, but it just seems to me that pharmaceuticals are unable to influence the fight or flight system without massive side effects.

Do drug companies know that these meds they manufacture are largely ineffective when it comes to the treatment of PTSD? I’m sure they do. But, the FDA trusts them to do their own research! This research has led to Americans, comprising five percent of the earth’s population, consuming eighty percent of the psych meds! We lead the world in a lot of things. This is not a good one. We certainly don’t lead the world in happiness or mental health.

Do doctors know this? It seems to me that when pills don’t work, prescribers just try harder to prescribe them. They take a guess as to which other drug will work, or double the dosage, triple the dosage, or prescribe something else for the side effects of the first pill. I believe that most doctors are good people who truly want to help their patients. It must feel great when they are able to treat things like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. But that doesn’t mean that drugs are the cure for everything else.

The simple fact is that when you have a hammer in your hand everything starts to look like a nail… 

I always knew that meds have their downsides: they are expensive, addictive, can interact with each other, and have so many short-term side effects, like killing your sex drive, weight gain, and making you feel like a zombie.

-Why wouldn’t there be dangerous long-term side effects for some of these unnatural substances?
-Who would even tell us if there are? 

-What kind of risks have I been taking with my own body?

– Was I being reckless?


 Well, no, because I was trusting the people who are supposed to know. I was trusting people who have sworn medical oaths to take care of me. I personally can’t get off of Wellbutrin. I have tried four times. I don’t even know if it still helps me at all. I only know that I get sick as a dog if my prescription runs out, or if I just forget to take it. I asked my family doctor, whom I like, if I have to take it until I’m dead. She said, “Is there a problem with that?” 

 That shocked me. That makes me really angry. I wish I could go back and confront whoever put me on Wellbutrin. “Why didn’t you tell me that I was going to be used as a pawn? You risked my life and health to squeeze boatloads of money out of me and my insurance company, to give to the shareholders of a drug company, for years and years to come”. I was desperate for help twenty years ago. Maybe it helped me in the short term. Maybe it was a placebo. I can’t remember who it was who directed me to take this drug. They got me addicted. I’m an addict. I talk to patients who have tried everything. I felt like I had tried everything. Some people kill themselves when they give up. This is tremendously sad because you do have other options, treatments that don’t require a lifetime commitment, or the risk of putting strange chemicals in your body without being aware of the adverse risk involved.

 I know that PTSD is a difficult thing to live with. It’s not something you can just “get over” or take a pill for. But, please don’t give up!  If you’d like to learn more, please look around our website, or message us with questions. We’re here to help you.

To learn more about your PTSD severity take this quiz to get your free report: [quiz link].


-David Bonanno , Liscensed Clinical Psychologist

Disclaimer: I am not licensed to give medical advice so please, no one should discontinue or elect not to take medication based on this writing. Please consult a physician before discontinuing medication, because suddenly stopping medication can make you very sick.

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