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Affects of PTSD on Brain Structure

In past years it was said that only veterans of war were prone to PTSD but recent research suggests that any traumatic experience can leave an individual affected for life. PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is characterized by the National Institute of Mental health as “a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.” This disorder is typically associated with war veterans because of the severe trauma and notable change in behavior associated with that trauma.

However, any experience that causes a fight or flight response can be trauma inducing. The events that created the traumatic experience create a sense of anxiety and fear in those who suffer from PTSD causing them to avoid thoughts, feelings, or places that may bring back the memory of the event.


Researchers Say the Insula Determines Reaction of Traumatic Events


Scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine have recently found that not only does PTSD change the brain but it changes the brain differently in boys and girls. Researcher Victor Carrion, M.D. says that the main structure in the brain associated with the development of PTSD is the Insula. The research suggests that boys and girls could develop different symptoms and have different reactions to trauma. The researchers noted that ““By better understanding sex differences in a region of the brain involved in emotion processing, clinicians and scientists may be able to develop sex-specific trauma and emotion dysregulation treatments,” the authors write in the study.”.

The interesting thing about PTSD is that a person can develop symptoms even if a traumatic event did not directly happen to them. For instance, a person could develop PTSD by watching something highly traumatic on television or hearing another person’s account of a traumatic event. Anyone who has ever watched the news might be at risk for PTSD depending upon certain factors which include childhood exposure to traumatic events, a person’s chemical response in their brain, and current mental health state.

As of today there isn’t a cure for this disorder. Recent technological advancements are allowing those in the mental health field to explore different approaches for treatment. By examining how the brain responds to stress in different personality types as well as between genders mental health experts are one step closer to achieving a successful treatment for those suffering from PTSD.



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