Excerpt of Article by Patricia Kime | Navy Times
Researchers are inching closer to creating medical tests to detect post-traumatic stress or mild traumatic brain injury — conditions that now are diagnosed only with self-reported symptoms and subjective exams.
Scientists from five institutions are two years into a five-year, $42.9 million study to find biomarkers that can indicate evidence of these injuries common to combat veterans. An estimated one in five of the 2.3 million troops who have served in combat since 2001 have suffered a brain injury and/or developed PTSD, according to researchers.
Using brain imaging, Dr. Amit Etkin, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, has found that compared to individuals without post-traumatic stress, patients with that condition have above-average activity in the portion of the brain responsible for creating and storing memories, the amygdala, and below-average activity in the portion that congtrols social behavior and expression, the medial prefrontal cortex, as a response to fear-inducing stimulus.
Meanwhile, at Emory University School of Medicine, Dr. Kerry Ressler is examining the role of genetics in resilience and developing post-traumatic stress.
Ressler has found gene variants in 10 percent to 20 percent of the population that increase the risk for developing PTSD. When he compared the genetic makeup of a group of predominantly male Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans with PTSD to a group of black women who had been abused as children and also had PTSD, he found both groups shared the same gene anomaly.
Such evidence could lead to genetic tests to determine who may be at higher risk for developing PTSD, and designing pharmacological or psychological interventions, such as the administration of morphine or exposure therapy — both of which have been proven to prevent development of PTSD — following a traumatic event.
Thanks to Patricia Kime for writing the article; Navy Times for committing it resources to the article; the researchers and research assistants who contributed to the study that was the basis of the article; Google for helping me find the article; and all the people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the picture and text I used in this post.