Wednesday, December 9, 2009

2 studies: PTSD is chemical change in brain

2 studies: PTSD is chemical change in brain

By Kelly Kennedy - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Dec 9, 2009 11:08:33 EST

Two new studies seem to provide more evidence that post-traumatic stress disorder is a chemical change in the brain caused by trauma — and that it might be possible to diagnose, treat and predict susceptibility to it based on brain scans or blood tests.

In one study, Christine Marx, of the Duke University Medical Center and Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center, wondered why PTSD, depression and pain often occur together.

Researchers already knew that people with PTSD show changes in their neurosteroids, which are brain chemicals thought to play a role in how the body responds to stress.

Previous animal studies showed that blood neurosteroid levels correlated to brain neurosteroid levels, so Marx measured the blood neurosteroid levels of 90 male Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. She found that the neurosteroid levels correlated to symptom severity in PTSD, depression and pain issues, and that those levels might be used to predict how a person reacts to therapy as well as to help develop new therapies.

Marx is researching treatment for people with traumatic brain injuries using the same kind of brain chemical, and early results show that increasing a person’s neurosteroid level decreases his PTSD symptoms.

Marx’s work was funded by the Veterans Affairs Department, National Institutes of Health, the Defense Department and NARSAD, an organization that funds brain and behavior researcher.

A second study, conducted by Alexander Neumeister of Yale University School of Medicine, found that veterans diagnosed with PTSD along with another syndrome, such as depression, alcohol abuse, substance abuse or suicidal ideation, had different brain images on a CT scan than did those who had been diagnosed only with PTSD.

Neumeister became curious after realizing that veterans dealing only with PTSD responded differently to treatment than did those with PTSD and another diagnosis.

He said the finding is important for two reasons.

First, these differences “can have huge implications for treatment,” he said in a statement issued by the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, which released the two studies during its annual meeting this week.

For example, he said, treating a person with antidepressants addresses only the depression diagnosis — not the PTSD or the substance abuse issues. All of the issues need to be addressed, he said.

His second reason addresses the stigma behind seeking help for PTSD. Service members have said they fear being perceived as weak or cowardly, or their military careers will be hurt, if they seek help for mental health issues.

“Once veterans see this is a neurobiological disorder in which their brain acts differently in terms of circuitry and chemical function, oftentimes it motivates them to seek treatment,” he said.

In his report, Neumeister also said that depression with trauma is “biologically distinct” from depression without a history of severe trauma.

In other words, PTSD, depression and substance abuse can all be seen as a physical, chemical injury to the brain that occurs when the brain is exposed to trauma. As researchers work more with PTSD, they may be able to determine why some people are more susceptible to this chemical change than others, researchers said.

Neumeister’s work was funded by VA, NIH, NARSAD, the National Center for PTSD and the Patrick and Catherine Weldon Donaghue Medical Research Foundation.

2 studies: PTSD is chemical change in brain


If they have found it is a chemical change do they know the right chemicals (drugs) to help us change back to the way we were before we (PTSD) affected veterans became the people we are now? Will they be able to help us get back our lives that we had before PTSD destroyed them, jobs with security, great benefits, our retirement security back? I have given up in ever becoming "whole" in total, just as long as my family is taken care of when I die, that is all I ask of the VA now, the past 35 years has been a living hell.......and nothing can make that "whole" no matter what they do

I still believe the sooner people affected by trauma seek help for their mental health the greater the chance they can avoid a life of "avoidance, denialand self destruction" learning coping methods and getting counseling is essential to easing the impact of PTSD telling victims of trauma to "man up" "men don't cry" "carry your load" do nothing to help the people at risk for PTSD, if nothing else all it does is bottle it up, the soldiers fear that asking for mental health care is an end to their career in the military or any prospect of a decent job with law enforcement, fire departments, any type of government jobs etc, if they are perceived as being weak, by asking for help dealing with the stress of war.

War is an abnormal act, stress of it is normal not abnormal and the sooner the military culture realizes this and mandate mental health visits for all soldiers at the 3rd month, 6 month and one year anniversary dates of returning home, then the military will be in a better position for themselves and their troops, Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guardsman or women deployed to a hostile area.

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