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Original Research

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Male Military Veterans With Comorbid Overweight and Obesity: Psychotropic, Antihypertensive, and Metabolic Medications

W. Victor R. Vieweg, MD; Demetrios A. Julius, MD; Antony Fernandez, MD; Daniel M. Tassone, PharmD; Shireesha N. Narla, MD; and Anand K. Pandurangi, MD

Published: February 15, 2006

Article Abstract

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an important syndrome among military veterans. Little has been written about comorbid medical conditions of PTSD, particularly overweight and obesity. We focus on psychotropic and non-psychotropic drugs, their interactions, and metabolic issues most relevant to primary care physicians.

Method: Data from the recently constituted PTSD program at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Richmond, Va., were retrospectively reviewed to assess the prevalence and severity of comorbid overweight and obesity in male veterans with PTSD. Also, our database allowed us to correlate various drugs used to treat hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and dyslipidemia with body mass index (BMI).

Results: The mean BMI of 157 veterans with PTSD (DSM-IV criteria) in this sample was in the obese range (30.3 ± 5.6 kg/m2). The number of drugs a given patient was taking for treatment of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and dyslipidemia correlated with BMI. Psychotropic drugs associated with weight gain did not explain our findings.

Conclusions: Overweight and obesity among our male veterans with PTSD strikingly exceeded national findings. The administration of psychotropic drugs associated with weight gain did not explain these findings. The number of medications used to treat hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and dyslipidemia correlated significantly with BMI. Rather than these medications explaining the high prevalence of overweight and obesity in our study population, obesity probably worsened these components of the metabolic syndrome, necessitating more aggressive treatment reflected in the high number of drugs prescribed.

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