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Identifying cause of PTSD


People with post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) appear to have lower levels of serotonin 1B. Targeting this deficit with prescription drugs could lead to first line treatments designed specifically for PTSD.

Doctors fall back now on antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs to treat PTSD. These are only marginally effective and not designed to treat the specific needs of PTSD. People with this disorder live with recurrent memories of trauma, intense guilt or worry, angry outbursts and nightmares.

“The medications we have these days are not working for PTSD,” said Dr. Alexander Neumeister of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, whose study appears in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Neumeister and his team at Yale Positron Emission Tomography Center used imaging to study differences in the brains of PTSD patients and those without the diagnosis. They examined trauma victims without PTSD.

The team found that people with PTSD had changes in the serotonin 1B receptor, a neurotransmitter sensitive to stress. Levels were also slightly lower in people who had experienced trauma but did not develop PTSD.

Age made a difference as well. “In those individuals who had early trauma in their life, we found the most severe alteration in the serotonin 1B receptor,” Neumeister said.

“Currently the only medical treatment options for the nearly 8 million American adults with PTSD are anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications, which show little benefit in improving the mental health of these patients. . .Hopefully in the near future we will have drugs that will interfere with this receptor,” Neumeister concluded.

Source: Reuters

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