News and Research
D-cycloserine Enhances PTSD Psychotherapy
Researchers found that D-cycloserine enhanced the effects of exposure therapy in a specific subgroup of patients with PTSD. In addition, those with more severe PTSD had a greater reduction in symptoms when they received DCS. (Biological Psychiatry, 71(11): 962-968) Read more.
Genetic Biomarker for PTSD
Researchers have found a biomarker for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Two gene variations ( TPH1 and TPH2), which control serotonin production, were associated with PTSD symptoms. (Journal of Affective Disorders, published online April 5) Read more.
Genes Linked to PTSD
Scientists have linked two genes involved in producing serotonin to a higher risk of developing PTSD, suggesting that susceptibility to the disorder is inherited and leading to new ways of screening for the disorder and treating it. (Journal of Affective Disorders, published online April 3, 2012) Read more.
Brain Injury Linked to Higher Risk for PTSD, Anxiety Disorders
Scientists have produced evidence of a causal link between traumatic brain injury and an increased risk for posttraumatic stress disorder. Individuals who experience even a mild traumatic brain injury face a higher risk for developing an anxiety disorder and are advised to try to avoid stressful situations at least for awhile. (Biological Psychology, 71(4):335-343) Read more.
Blood Pressure Drug Effective for Treating PTSD-Related Nightmares
Mayo Clinic researchers have found the use of the blood pressure drug prazosin as an effective treatment to curb posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-related nightmares. The drug was well-tolerated and can take effect within days to weeks. (Presentation, 20th European Congress of Psychiatry in Prague) Read more.
Lifetime Psychological Traumas Linked to Adult IBS
Deaths of loved ones, divorce, natural disasters, house fires, car accidents, physical or mental abuse, or other psychological and emotional traumas experienced over a lifetime may contribute irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in adults, according to the results of a study presented at the most recent American College of Gastroenterology’s (ACG) annual meeting. Read more.
Gene Variants Boost PTSD Risk After Mass Shooting
College students exposed to a mass shooting were 20 to 30 percent more likely to develop symptoms of PTSD if they have a risk version of a gene, according to new research. (Archives of General Psychiatry, published online Sept. 5, 2011) Read more.
Cortisone Shot May Stop Traumatic Stress
When administered up to six hours after test subjects experienced a traumatic event, the findings of a single extra dose of cortisone suggest that the likelihood of later developing PTSD is reduced by 60 percent. (European Neuropsychopharmacology, 2011; 21 (11):796) Read more.
Reduced Recognition of Fear and Sadness in PTSD
New research reveals evidence that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by changes in the way the brain processes specific emotions and that certain aspects of this disorder could be understood as a consequence of the altered processing of emotional cues. (Cortex, 2011; 47(8):974) Read more.
PTSD Common After Orthopedic Trauma
A new review article reveals that any type of orthopedic trauma may be associated with PTSD in nonmilitary patients, and it can hinder their emotional, physical and functional recovery. (Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 19(5), May 2011: 245-250) Read more.
PTSD Decreases Antiretroviral Drug Adherence in People With HIV
Results from a recent small study indicate that HIV-positive individuals with PTSD have significantly lower odds of adhering to their antiretroviral drug regimens. (Journal of Psychiatric Research, 45(7): 942-948) Read more.
Exercise Effective PTSD Therapy
Preliminary research has revealed that aerobic exercise may be an effective treatment for PTSD, according to a study presented at the 58th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine and 2nd World Congress on Exercise is Medicine. Read more.
Drug Diminishes Vets' PTSD Nightmares
In clinical trials, prazosin, the alpha-1 adrenergic receptor antagonist developed four decades ago as an antihypertensive drug, restores normal REM sleep and permits “decoupling” of emotional tone from memory to reduce nightmares associated with combat-related PTSD. (Psychiatric News, June 3, 2011; 46(11):15) Read more.
More Men With Migraine Suffer From PTSD Than Women
While the risk of PTSD is more common in those with migraine than those without migraine irrespective of sex, the risk is greater in men than women. (Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 2011;51:860-868) Read more.
Letters From Home May Help Prevent PTSD
A new study finds that for happily married male soldiers, communicating frequently with a spouse through letters and e-mails during deployment may protect against developing PTSD symptoms. (Journal of Traumatic Stress, 24(3):352–355, June 2011) Read more.
TM a Potential PTSD Treatment
War veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder may find relief with transcendental meditation, which previous research has demonstrated can help reduce anxiety, depression, and hypertension. (Military Medicine, 176(6), June 2011:626-630(5) Read more.
Hippocampal Volume May Relate to PTSD
A smaller-volume hippocampus, the brain region responsible for storing and retrieving, memories, might be a risk factor for PTSD. A new study has found that larger hippocampal volume is associated with recovery of PTSD, suggesting that PTSD treatment could be considered brain restoration rather easing symptoms. (Biological Psychiatry, 69(6): 541) Read more.
Damaging Psychological Effects of Intimate Partner Violence on Men
Men who are abused by their female partners can suffer significant psychological trauma, such as posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and suicidal thoughts. (Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 12(2): 97-111) Read more.
Which PTSD Symptoms Affect Quality of Life?
A recent study is the first to examine which problems associated with PTSD correspond to lower quality of life, as indicated by the patient's willingness to die sooner or to risk life-threatening treatment to relieve their symptoms. (Psychiatric Services, 62:272-277, March 2011) Read more.
Biological Clue to PTSD in Women
High levels of the stress hormone PACAP may explain why women have a higher risk of developing PTSD than men. (Nature, 470:492–497; published online 23 February 2011) Read more.
ADAA member Kerry Ressler, MD, PhD, explains more in this video.
Surprise Discovery May Lead to Treating Anxiety and Memory Disorders
An unexpected discovery by scientists at UCLA may lead to the development of treatments for PTSD and other anxiety disorders, as well as memory-impairing diseases. They found that disrupting critical rhythms in the dorsal hippocampus (the brain region most involved in cognition) prevented fear memories for places from forming, discovering what may be an unexplored drug target for the treatment of anxiety disorders. (Science, 7 January 2011: 87-91) Read more.
Drug Reduces Increase of Fear
A traumatic experience favors the persistence of fear associated with an aversive stimulus, known as fear conditioning. Scientists have suppressed that effect in mice with a single dose of 7,8-Dihydroxyflavone, a drug that boosts the ability to acquire new emotional behaviors. The drug could be used as an effective treatment of PTSD, panic, and phobia disorders in humans. (American Journal of Psychiatry, published online December 1, 2010) Read more.
Drug to Prevent PTSD
In a preclinical study scientists have identified for the first time the molecular cause of the debilitating condition of PTSD and prevented it from occurring by injecting calming drugs into the brain within five hours of a traumatic event. (Biological Psychiatry, 68(11):1007-1015) Read more.
IBD Produces PTSD Variant
The inflammatory bowel disorder Crohn’s disease produces its own variant of posttraumatic stress disorder and creates a vicious circle by worsening the Crohn's symptoms, according to a new study. (Frontline Gastroenterology, published online December 1, 2010) Read more.
Good Outcome for Combined Treatment of PTSD and Smoking
For smokers with military-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), integrating smoking-cessation and PTSD treatment resulted in higher rates of prolonged smoking abstinence. (JAMA, 304(22):2485-2493) Read more.
Computer “Vaccine” to Avoid Traumatic Flashbacks
The computer game Tetris may offer what researchers are calling a cognitive vaccine against developing flashbacks following a traumatic event. (PLoS ONE, 5(11): e13706. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013706) Read more.
Co-Occurrence of PTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder Magnifies Impairment
Women diagnosed with PTSD and borderline personality disorder are more significantly impaired than women with either condition alone. The recent study suggests that among other recommendations, targeted PTSD treatment may be necessary for long-term improvement. (American Journal of Psychiatry, published online Sept.1, 2010) Read more.
Oxytocin as a Treatment for PTSD
Researchers propose augmentation of CBT with oxytocin in the treatment of PTSD. Oxytocin has a combination of pharmacologic effects that result in a “sense of safety” for the patient, which is a prerequisite to successful treatment of PTSD. (CNS Spectrums, 2010; 15(8): 522-530) Read more.
PTSD: Women in Their Fifties More Prone Than Men
Researchers in Denmark found that men are most vulnerable to PTSD between the ages of 41–45 years, but women are most vulnerable between ages 51–55. The total prevalence of PTSD was 21.3%, and the disorder was twice as common in women as in men, but men and women peaked in the risk of PTSD a decade apart from each other during their life spans. (Annals of General Psychiatry, 2010, 9:32) Read more.
Early PTSD Treatment for Vets’ Varied Physical Illnesses
Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have higher-than-usual rates of several physical ailments, according to a study; a strong link between PTSD and circulatory, musculoskeletal, digestive, and other diseases shows up soon after veterans return from fighting. Interventions instituted shortly after trauma might ultimately improve the quality of life and save money in future treatment costs. (Psychiatric News, July 16, 2010; 45(14):20) Read more.
Genetic Influences on PTSD Vulnerability and Treatment
Having a shorter version of the serotonin transporter gene appears to increase the risk for depression and PTSD after exposure to extremely stressful situations. This gene variant increases the activation of the amygdala, the brain’s emotion-control center. (Biological Psychiatry, 15 June 2010; 67(12):1217-1219) Read more.
PTSD or Depression Among Iraq War Solders
Posttraumatic stress disorder or depression, causing serious functional impairment, affects between 8.5% and 14% of soldiers returning from Iraq, according to a new report. (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2010; 67(6):614-623) Read more.
PTSD Associated With Dementia in Older Veterans
Older veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) appear more likely to develop dementia over a seven-year period than those without PTSD. (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2010;67(6):608-613) Read more.
Specific PTSD Symptoms Related to Anger and Aggressiveness in Veterans
According to researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Veterans Affairs, post-deployment anger and hostility were associated with hyperarousal symptoms of PTSD. (The American Journal of Psychiatry, published online June 15) Read more.
Traumatic Experiences Weaken Immune-System Gene
Researchers at Columbia University discovered that traumatic experiences leave physical traces in a person’s genes, compromise the immune system, and lead to the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). (PsychCentral, May 4, 2010; published online) Read more.
Childhood-Cancer Survivors More Likely to Develop PTSD
Young adults who have survived childhood cancers are four times more likely to develop posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD; findings include 9 percent reporting significant functional impairment and clinical distress and symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of PTSD. (Pediatrics, May 2010; 125(5): e1124-e1134) Read more.
Neural Network Relationships Differ in PTSD Patients
Sometimes the brain is idling, sometimes it’s roaring down the neural highway. The shift from one mode to the other may differentiate people with PTSD from those without it. (Psychiatric News, April 16, 2010; 45(8):16)
New Approach Possible for Treating PTSD
The results of a recently published study, conducted at The University of Texas at Austin, suggests that drugs known as HDAC inhibitors may point the way toward new treatments for PTSD. (Neuropsychopharmacology, 10 February 2010)
Gene Variant Affects Fear-Based Memory
Both humans and mice carrying a variant of a gene that plays a role in memory were slow to learn to forget a fear-based memory. The parallels observed in mice and humans mean that results using the mouse model may inform treatment approaches to anxiety disorders, such as posttraumatic stress disorder. (Biological Psychiatry, 15 Feb. 2010; 67(4): 304-308)
Genetic Factors Influence Risk of PTSD
The risk for posttraumatic stress disorder depends on the number of traumatic event types experienced, or the so-called traumatic load. A study of molecular genetics shows that genetic factors also influence the risk of PTSD. (Biological Psychiatry, 15 Feb. 2010; 67(4): 304-308)
Inadequate Treatment for PTSD for Many Veterans
A recently published study reports that although the Department of Veteran Affairs is quickly implementing treatments for newly diagnosed PTSD patients, significant barriers remain in the way of veterans getting a full course of appropriate treatment. (Journal of Traumatic Stress, Feb. 2010; 23(1): 5-16)
Biomarker May Identify PTSD
Researchers have identified a biological marker in the brains of veterans exhibiting posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Using magnetoencephalography (MEG), a non-invasive measurement of magnetic fields in the brain, researchers accomplished more than 90 percent accuracy in differentiating PTSD patients from healthy control subjects. (Journal of Neural Engineering, Feb. 2010; 7(1): 1-7)
Genes and Environment Interact to Influence PTSD Risk
People who experience childhood adversity and traumatic events as adults appear more likely to develop PTSD than those exposed to only one of these factors, according to a study conducted at Yale and the VA Connecticut Healthcare Center. The risk was further increased in those with a gene mutation that has been associated with emotional response after stressful events. (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2009; 66(11):1201-1209)
Childhood Trauma Affecting Adult Physical Health
According to a study by Duke University researchers, sustained health risks in adulthood associated with the physiology of stress-response systems may stem from childhood abuse, neglect, social isolation, or economic hardship. (Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 2009;163(12):1135-1143)
Some Women Are More PTSD-Resilient
A recent study comparing traumatic experiences of female police officers and civilians found that the officers were better able to fend off PTSD symptoms because they experience less intense fear, helplessness, and horror when faced with trauma.
PTSD Associated With Higher Risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia
A study reported at 2009 International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease shows higher Alzheimer's risk in veterans with PTSD.
Early Psychological Interventions May Not Prevent PTSD
A study has found that psychological interventions offered soon after a person experiences a traumatic event have been found ineffective if intended to prevent the development of PTSD. Researchers emphasize that their study does not suggest that interventions have no role in treating those who have already developed the disorder.
Parents’ History Predicts Children’s PTSD
Data presented at the 9th World Congress of Biological Psychiatry shows that parental history of anxiety disorders is the best predictor of the development and persistence of PTSD in children who have experienced a traumatic event. Compared to children without a parental history of anxiety disorders, those whose parents have such a history are three times as likely to have PTSD symptoms after one month and twice as likely to have symptoms that persist for five years.
Panic Attacks Not Necessarily Linked to PTSD
A new research study dispels the previously accepted notion about panic attacks—that one immediately following a traumatic event would trigger or predict PTSD.
Brain Scans May Detect PTSD in the Future
As technology improves, imaging research is moving closer to the possibility of using brain scans to help diagnose PTSD. Scientists hope that they may be able to detect biological markers that distinguish the brains of those with PTSD.
Women With PTSD Have Increased Risk of Heart Disease
Women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD, and those with a high level of symptoms have a greater risk of developing heart disease than women with no PTSD symptoms, according to researchers conducting a study at Harvard and Johns Hopkins.