A new study has shown that some people are more prone to developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after exposure to trauma due to the hormone stress response of the body. Experts say that the findings might help health experts to develop more targeted and individualized treatments and therapies for the condition. Some people are at a higher risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being exposed to a traumatic event or events, that can lead to extraordinary damages like avoiding behavior, intrusive thoughts, sleep disturbance, and hypervigilance while other people are less susceptible to PTSD. The new study has been put together by experts from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL).
Experts say that there are substantial variations in the levels of glucocorticoids that are secreted by individuals when they are stressed. Experts say that low levels of glucocorticoid are often detected among PTSD patients due to trauma exposure. Initially, these were considered to be an outcome of trauma exposure. Glucocorticoids are steroid hormones released by the adrenal glands, which are located above each kidney. Cortisol is a vital glucocorticoid produced by the body, it is a primary stress hormone that acts with some regions of the brain to regulate mood, fear, and motivation. After the fight-or-flight reaction, if the brain carries on to perceive something as unsafe, it prompts a pathway that leads to cortisol discharge. Whereas low levels of glucocorticoid and a minor hippocampus, the region of the brain participating in long-term memory development and memory recovery, were initially considered to be a result of trauma, however, now they are seen as contributing risk factors for PTSD.
Experts used genetically modified rats mimicking human reactions to cortisol to see how a decreased hormonal reaction to stress might be associated with PTSD symptoms. After assessing sleep patterns and brain activities, they found that low hormonal response glucocorticoids resulted in multiple key PTSD susceptibility behaviors like damaged fear, less hippocampal volume, and rapid-eye-movement sleep (REMS) disorders. They administered corticosterone and gave cognitive behavioral therapy to animals and saw a decline in REM sleep disruptions and excessive fear. Experts say that study might be a way ahead to better treatment for PTSD.