One of the best PTSD pages read…

I found this page on PTSD today, that I have to say is one of THE best, single informative pages that quickly outlines the issues and complexities, medication and post traumatic stress disorder treatment methods, for living with and dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The opening statement: “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychological disorder formed by exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence. It is linked to physiological changes within the brain, affecting the hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex. PTSD has biological, psychological and environmental causation and implication.”


Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in Women

Girls, Injury, and PTSD

Injury is typical in girls; five out of ten girls experience a traumatic event. Women tend to have injuries that are different than guys. While both men and women report precisely the same symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (hyperarousal, reexperiencing, avoidance, and numbing), some symptoms are more normal for women or guys.


Many early information on trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder came from studies of men Veterans, mostly Vietnam Veterans. Researchers began to examine the consequences of sex assault and identified that females responses were related to male battle Veterans. Women’s experiences of trauma also can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder. This finding led to more research on women’s exposure to trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder.

Of encountering trauma, danger

Results from a nationwide mental chemical imbalance health study that is sizable show that a little more than half of women will encounter at least one traumatic event in their own life. Girls are slightly not as likely to have trauma than men. The most common trauma for women is sexual assault or child sexual abuse. About one in three girls will experience a sexual assault in their own life. Rates of sexual assault are higher for women than guys. Women are also more inclined to be neglected or abused in youth, to encounter domestic violence, or to have a loved one suddenly die.

Sexual attack is less unlikely to trigger PTSD than a number of other events.

Women may be more likely to blame themselves for trauma experiences than guys.

What happens after trauma

After an injury, some women begin drinking or using medications may feel depressed, or produce post-traumatic stress disorder. Girls are a lot more than two times as prone to develop post-traumatic stress disorder than men (10% for women and 4% for men). There really are a number of reasons PTSD more might be got by women than men:

Women are much more likely to experience sexual attack.

Why are some girls at higher risk for posttraumatic stress disorder?

Maybe not all girls who experience a traumatic event develop PTSD. Women are prone to develop PTSD if they:

Have a past mental health problem (for instance depression or anxiety)

Experienced an extremely severe or life threatening trauma

Were attacked

Were hurt throughout the occasion

Had a serious reaction at that time of the occasion

Experienced events that were stressful that were other afterwards

Usually do not have great support that is social

Therapy for PTSD

There are excellent treatments for PTSD. Nonetheless, not everybody who experiences a trauma attempts treatment. At least one study found that girls react to therapy as well as or better than men. This might be because girls are generally more comfortable talking about Complex Trauma private matters with others than men and sharing feelings.

Girls in the military are at high risk for exposure to traumatic events, especially during times of warfare. Now, about 15% of military personnel in Iraq are women. Even though men are somewhat prone to see combat, a growing number of women are actually being exposed to battle. Girls in the armed forces are at higher danger of exposure to sexual-harassment or sexual assault than guys. Potential studies are essential to better understand the results of women’s exposure to both fight and sexual assault.

What post-traumatic stress disorder is like for girls

Some women with PTSD symptoms tend to be more prevalent in girls than men. Women are prone to have more trouble feeling feelings, to be jumpy, and also to prevent things that remind them of the trauma than guys. Guys are really more than likely to feel angry and to have problems controlling their anger then women. Women with PTSD tend to be more likely to feel depressed and apprehensive, while guys with PTSD may possess issues with drugs or alcohol. Both women and men who experience PTSD may develop health issues that are physical.

Honour veterans together with diligent PTSD research

The medical establisment owes them the memory of one’s traumatized survivors of World War I to care for posttraumatic stress disorder in current veterans diligently, and then to guarantee that it has been informed by “high-quality science”, as per the authors of an Editorial published online from the Medical Journal of Australia.

“There is often little empathy for your psychological wounds of [World War I] veterans, construed by most as reflecting moral inferiority, compensation-seeking, or ‘poor seed'”, Professor Alexander McFarlane, director of one’s Population Wellbeing and Clinical Practice at the University of Adelaide, and Professor David Forbes, director of one’s Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Emotional health for the University of Melbourne, wrote.

“There really was considerable debate inside of the medical profession whether the traumatic neurosis of war – ‘shellshock’ – was organic or psychogenic in origin.”

Today we know post traumatic stress disorder better, McFarlane and Forbes wrote, although much study is still needed into effective treatments for veterans who’ve survived multiple traumas.

“PTSD is naturally a multifaceted disorder, through which biological, psychological and social components are entwined … and must therefore be looked at in a recovery strategy”, they wrote.

“An effective way to honour the suffering of those who fought in Ww 1 will be to ensure that our care for the present modernized veterans is diligent and informed by independent and adequately funded high- quality science.”

A recent review in the United States had realized that there was little hard evidence when it comes to the effectiveness of widely used PTSD treatment approaches, including psychoeducation, emotional decompression, psychological debriefing and resilience training. The only real approach sustained by the evidence was post- deployment screening, a strategy used by the Australian Defence Force since 1998, the authors wrote.

Adequate training for medical and emotional health staff in order to help them understand the various manifestations of PTSD was critical, they said.

“High-risk groups, such as the physically ill and injured, need routine screening and follow-up, as delayed-onset PTSD has become recognised to get significantly more prevalent than was previously thought, particularly in veterans.”

Brain uses separate pathway to recall old fear memories

People with anxiety disorders, such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), often experience prolonged and exaggerated fearfulness. Now, an animal study suggests that this might involve disruption of a gradual shifting of brain circuitry for retrieving fear memories. Researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health have discovered in rats that an old fear memory is recalled by a separate brain pathway from the one originally used to recall it when it was fresh.

After rats were conditioned to fear a tone associated with a mild shock, their overt behavior remained unchanged over time, but the pathway engaged in remembering the traumatic event took a detour, perhaps increasing its staying power.

“While our memories feel constant across time, the neural pathways supporting them actually change with time,” explained Gregory Quirk, Ph.D., of the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, in San Juan, a grantee of NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). “Uncovering new pathways for old memories could change scientists’ view of post-traumatic stress disorder, in which fearful events occur months or years prior to the onset of symptoms.”

A research team led by Quirk and Fabricio Do-Monte, D.V.M., Ph.D., report on their post traumatic stress disorder definition findings January 19, 2015, in the journal Nature.

Immediately after fear conditioning, a circuit running from the prefrontal cortex, the executive hub, to part of the amygdala, the fear hub, was engaged to retrieve the memory. But several days later, Quirk and colleagues discovered that retrieval had migrated to a different circuit – from the prefrontal cortex to an area in the thalamus, called the paraventricular region (PVT). The PVT, in turn, communicates with a different central part of the amygdala that orchestrates fear learning and expression.

The Quirk team spotted the moving memory using a genetic/laser technique called optogenetics, which can activate or silence specific pathways to tease apart their workings.

The researchers say that the PVT may serve to integrate fear with other adaptive responses, such as stress, thereby strengthening the fear memory.

“In people with anxiety disorders, any disruption of timing-dependent regulation in retrieval circuits might worsen fear responses occurring long after a traumatic event,” Quirk suggested.

In the same issue of Nature, NIMH grantees Bo Li, Ph.D., and Mario Penzo, Ph.D. of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, and colleagues, reveal how the long-term fear memory circuit works in mice to translate detection of stress into adaptive behaviors.

Li and colleagues independently discovered the same shift in memory retrieval circuitry occurring, over time, after fear conditioning in mice. Using powerful genetic-chemical, as well as optogenetic, methods to experimentally switch pathways on and off, they showed conclusively that neurons originating in the PVT regulate fear processing by acting on a class of neurons that store fear memories in the central amygdala area.

The Li team traced this activity in the PVT to the action of a messenger chemical, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which has previously been implicated in mood and anxiety disorders. For example, altered BDNF expression has been linked to PTSD.

BDNF from the PVT, working via a specific receptor, activated the memory-storing amygdala neurons. Simply infusing BDNF into the central amygdala area caused mice to freeze in fear, suggesting that it not only enables the formation of fear memories, but also the expression of fear responses.


NIH/National Institute of Mental Health

Brain Scans Reveal How People Justify Murder

A new study using brain scans reveals how everyone can become killers in specific situations, showing how brain activity varies according to whether killing can be considered justified.

Regarding the study, Dr. Pascal Molenberghs of Monash University in Australia recruited participants sign up for computer games during which they imagined themselves shooting innocent civilians — unjustified violence — or enemy soldiers — justified violence. Their brain activity was recorded via functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) whilst they played.

Based on Molenberghs, the results provide clues about how people in certain situations, for instance war, are able to commit extreme violence against others.

“When participants imagined themselves shooting civilians in relation to soldiers, greater PostTraumatic Stress Disorder activation was obtainable from the lateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), a key brain area involved with making moral decisions,” he said.

“The more post traumatic stress disorder guilt participants felt about shooting civilians, the more the response in the whole lateral OFC. When shooting enemy soldiers, no activation was seen in lateral OFC.”

The outcome demonstrate that the neural mechanisms that might be typically implicated with harming others lessen active when the violence against a particular group can be considered justified.

“The findings show that when a person is accountable for the thing they see as justified or unjustified violence, they will show different Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome feelings of guilt linked to that — as a first we can realize this guilt is connected with specific brain activation,” he explained.

Molenberghs is director of this very Monash Social Neuroscience Lab, which studies morality, empathy and group membership to gain a better understanding of how social problems which can include racism and in-group bias develop. He was quoted saying he would like further investigate how everyone become desensitized to violence and the way personality plus the group membership of both perpetrators and victims influences these processes.

Scientists create artificial link between unrelated memories

The ptsd dog ability to learn associations between events is critical for survival, but it has not been clear how different pieces of information stored in memory may be linked together by populations of neurons. In a study published April 2nd in Cell Reports, synchronous activation of distinct neuronal ensembles caused mice to artificially associate the memory of a foot shock with the unrelated memory of exploring a safe environment, triggering an increase in fear-related behavior when the mice were re-exposed to the non-threatening environment. The findings suggest that co-activated cell ensembles become wired together to link two distinct memories that were previously stored independently in the brain.

“Memory is the basis of all higher brain functions, including consciousness, and it also plays an important role in psychiatric diseases such as post-traumatic stress disorder,” says senior study author Kaoru Inokuchi of the University of Toyama. “By showing how the brain associates different types of information to generate a qualitatively new memory that leads to enduring changes in behavior, our findings could have important implications for the treatment of these debilitating conditions.”

Recent studies have shown that subpopulations of neurons activated during learning are reactivated during subsequent memory retrieval, and reactivation of a cell ensemble triggers the retrieval of the corresponding memory. Moreover, artificial reactivation of a specific neuronal ensemble corresponding to a pre-stored memory can modify the acquisition of a new memory, thereby generating false or synthetic memories. However, these studies employed a combination of sensory input and artificial stimulation of cell ensembles. Until now, researchers had not linked two distinct memories using completely artificial means.

With that goal in mind, Inokuchi and Noriaki Ohkawa of the University of Toyama used a fear-learning paradigm in mice followed by a technique called optogenetics, which involves genetically modifying specific populations of neurons to express light-sensitive proteins that control neuronal excitability, and then delivering blue light through an optic fiber to activate those cells. In the behavioral paradigm, one group of mice spent six minutes in a cylindrical enclosure while another group explored a cube-shaped enclosure, and 30 minutes later, both groups of mice were placed in the cube-shaped enclosure, where a foot shock was immediately delivered. Two days later, mice that were re-exposed to the cube-shaped enclosure spent more time frozen in fear than mice that were placed back in the cylindrical enclosure.

The researchers then used optogenetics to reactivate the unrelated memories of the safe cylinder-shaped environment and the foot shock. Stimulation of neuronal populations in memory-related brain regions called the hippocampus and amygdala, which were activated during the learning phase, caused mice to spend more time frozen in fear when they were later placed back in the cylindrical enclosure, as compared with stimulation of neurons in either the hippocampus or amygdala, or no stimulation at all.

The findings show that synchronous activation of distinct cell ensembles can generate artificial links between unrelated pieces of information stored in memory, resulting in long-lasting changes in behavior. “By modifying this technique, we will next attempt to artificially dissociate memories that are physiologically connected,” Inokuchi says. “This may contribute to the development of new treatments for psychiatric disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, whose main symptoms arise from unnecessary associations between unrelated memories.”

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Alcohol-related cues, stress strongly impact females and increase ‘craving’-like behavior

A study conducted in rats measuring risk factors that contribute to alcohol abuse suggests females are particularly sensitive to alcohol-related cues and stress which elicits a “craving” response.

“Traditionally, heavy drinking has been shown to be more prevalent in men, though more recent studies point to a narrowing in the gender gap,” said Megan Bertholomey, Ph.D., a postdoctoral associate in the laboratory of Mary Torregrossa, Ph.D., at the University of Pittsburgh who conducted the research. “Further, alcohol-dependent women tend to show more negative emotional responses to drinking, including greater stress and anxiety.”

To investigate sex differences in the role stress plays in alcohol abuse, the researchers first trained male and female rats to press a lever, which would then administer alcohol simultaneously paired with an audiovisual cue. After three weeks of drinking, the rats associated the cue with alcohol.

The rats then underwent a period of abstinence with no audiovisual cue and no alcohol intake; regardless of how many times they pressed the lever. However, those original alcohol-cue memories do not go away during abstinence, allowing the researchers to determine factors that can cause the rats to start responding again.

“It’s well established that exposure to alcohol-associated cues and to stress can lead to reinstatement of the drug seeking response, which is thought to be a model of craving or relapse in rats,” said Bertholomey, who will present the research at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) Annual Meeting during Experimental Biology 2015.

Prior studies show that exposure to both cues and stress can have an additive effect on the propensity to cause craving and relapse in both people and in rats, and that females trained to respond for cocaine may be more sensitive to this effect. Thus, the researchers tested whether reinstatement of alcohol responding was different in male and female rats in the presence of the alcohol-paired cue with or without an injection of a drug that increases stress. The drug used, yohimbine, also produces a stress response in humans, which assists in making comparisons across species.

The researchers found that overall, the female rats pressed more on the lever that previously led to alcohol access than the males following either cue or stress exposure alone. Strikingly, when the cues and stress were combined, females had an even greater increase in alcohol seeking behavior compared to males and when either stimulus was given alone.

The results indicate that females are more influenced by environmental cues and stress in promoting a “craving”-like response that can ptsd symptoms in women drive them to seek and consume alcohol. These findings provide the basis for dissecting the brain pathways that causes the interactions between cues, stress and sex in alcohol seeking and drinking behavior.

“Individuals attempting to maintain abstinence are exposed to a number of factors that elicit craving and can lead to an increased risk of relapse,” said Bertholomey. “The next step for us will be to understand the mechanisms responsible for this enhanced sensitivity in females, which will direct further development of pharmacological and behavioral interventions that might reduce craving and prevent relapse.”

Alcohol use disorders are diagnosed in approximately 17 million adults in the United States, representing 9.9 and 4.6 percent of men and women in that age group, respectively, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that alcohol-related problems cost the United States $223.5 billion and represent the third leading cause of preventable death.

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