Concern over anti-psychotic drug given to soldiers
Lateline By Michael Vincent
April 24, 20113
Updated 11 minutes ago
Psychiatrists in Australia and the United States are calling for a review of the use of anti-psychotic medications to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.
Australia's Department of Defence has confirmed an almost 600 per cent increase in the use of one particular anti-psychotic, Seroquel, in just five years.
Soldiers have told Lateline the drug, originally intended to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, is being prescribed just to help them sleep.
Lateline spoke to special forces soldiers from Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. All have PTSD, and some have received psychological counselling, but others have not.
All say military doctors or GPs sanctioned by the Defence Department prescribed them Seroquel as a sedative.
One soldier, who Lateline has called Trooper M to protect his identity, has been a user of the drug for the past year.
He is only 23 and served as a special forces soldier on one tour of Afghanistan that left him with anxiety and nightmares.
Trooper M sought help when the nightmares became too much.
"So the mental health nurse liaised with one of the medical officers and from that... before I saw a psychiatrist or anything like that, they decided that Seroquel would be the choice of medication."
He says he does not know why, and just followed what he was being told.
One night, he accidentally took 400mg.
"I didn't wake up for over 24 hours. It was a bit of a wake-up call," he said.
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