PTSD Linked To Chemical Imbalance in Brain

the Psychiatry Advisor take:

An imbalance between neurotransmitters serotonin and substance P has been linked to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with the greater the imbalance, the more serious the symptoms, according to research published in Molecular Psychiatry.

Previous research has shown that people with PTSD have altered brain anatomy and function. This finding provides evidence for prior speculation that the biological basis of psychiatric disorders, such as PTSD, includes a shift in the balance between different signaling systems in the brain.

Using a sophistical positron emission tomography (PET) scanner, Mats Fredrickson, PhD, DRMSc, and Tomas Furmark, PhD, Uppsala University, Sweden, and colleagues found that it is the imbalance between the systems, rather than the degree of change in a single system, that determines symptom severity. This knowledge could be used to design improved pharmacological treatments.

“At present, PTSD is often treated with selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which have a direct effect on the serotonin system. SSRI drugs provide relief for many but do not help everybody,” said Andreas Frick, PhD, researcher at the Department of Psychology at Uppsala University. “Restoring the balance between the serotonin and substance P systems could become a new treatment strategy for individuals suffering from traumatic incidents."

PTSD Linked To Chemical Imbalance in Brain
The imbalance between brain systems, rather than the degree of change in a single system, that determines symptom severity.

New research finds that an imbalance between two neurochemical systems in the brain is linked to posttraumatic stress disorder with the greater the imbalance, the more serious the symptoms.

Researchers from Uppsala University and the medical university Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, found that people with posttraumatic stress disorder have an imbalance between two neurochemical systems in the brain, serotonin, and substance P.

Experiencing a traumatic event is not uncommon be it a robbery, warfare, a serious car accident, or a sexual assault. Approximately 10% of people subjected to trauma suffer long-lasting symptoms in the form of disturbing flashbacks, insomnia, hyperarousal, and anxiety.

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