People who sustain serious and painful physical injuries are at
increased risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
A study of U.S. soldiers injured in Iraq — confirming the findings
of two earlier studies — suggests that those who receive morphine
for pain relief have a lower risk of developing PTSD later on.
All of these studies were observational and cannot prove cause and
effect. They also cannot answer crucial questions about the drug's
mechanism of action or whether the results are applicable to other
types of people at risk for PTSD (such as those who suffer an
emotional rather than physical trauma). An editorial accompanying
the most recent study noted, however, that together these studies
suggest that alleviating pain with morphine might help lower risk
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