Sunday, July 15, 2007

Recent research on PTSD

According to the National Institute of Mental Health:

■ In brain imaging studies, researchers have found that the hippocampus—a part of the brain critical to emotion—appears to be different in cases of PTSD. Scientists are investigating whether this is related to short-term memory problems. Changes in the hippocampus are thought to be responsible for intrusive memories and flashbacks that occur in people with this disorder.

■ People with PTSD tend to have abnormal levels of key hormones involved in response to stress. Some studies have shown that cortisol levels are lower than normal and epinephrine and norepinephrine are higher than normal.

■ When people are in danger, they produce high levels of natural opiates, which can temporarily mask pain. Scientists have found that people with PTSD continue to produce those higher levels even after the danger has passed; this may lead to the blunted emotions associated with the condition.

For more information:
National Center for PTSD:

National Institute of Mental Health
Toll-Free: 1-88-88-ANXIETY (1-888-826-9438)
NIMH Web site:

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