Traumatic memory reactivation with or without propranolol for PTSD and comorbid major depression symptoms
Leo Sher, M.D.
A research report, “Traumatic memory reactivation with or without propranolol for PTSD and comorbid MD symptoms: a randomised clinical trial” has been published in Neuropsychopharmacology online ahead of print (1). The authors aimed to examine the efficacy of traumatic memory reactivation under the influence of propranolol in reducing PTSD symptoms as well as comorbid major depression (MD) symptoms.
Researchers performed a double blind, placebo-controlled, randomised clinical trial in 66 adults diagnosed with PTSD. Propranolol or a placebo was administered 90 minutes before a brief memory reactivation session, once a week for 6 consecutive weeks. Measures included the SCID PTSD module, the PTSD Check List (PCL-S) and the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II).
PTSD symptoms decreased both in the pre-reactivation propranolol group (39.28%) and the pre-reactivation placebo group (34.48 %). During the 6 treatment sessions, PCL-S and BDI-II scores decreased to similar extent in both groups and there were no treatment differences. During the 3-month follow-up period, there were no treatment effects for the mean PCL-S and BDI-II scores. However, in patients with severe PTSD symptoms (PCL-S ≥ 65) before treatment, PCL-S and BDI-II scores continued to decline 3 months after the end of treatment in the propranolol group while they increased in the placebo group.
The authors concluded that repeated traumatic memory reactivation seemed to be effective for PTSD and comorbid MD symptoms. The efficacy of propranolol was not greater than that of placebo one week after treatment. However, propranolol seemed to be effective in stabilising improvement in patients with severe PTSD.
1. Roullet P, Vaiva G, Véry E, Bourcier A, Yrondi A, Dupuch L, Lamy P, Thalamas C, Jasse L, El Hage W, Birmes P. Traumatic memory reactivation with or without propranolol for PTSD and comorbid MD symptoms: a randomised clinical trial. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2021 Feb 21:1–7. doi: 10.1038/s41386-021-00984-w. Epub ahead of print.