What Causes PTSD?

An interesting article published on the 4 April in Medical News Today (MNT) may have provided an interesting insight into what causes PTSD. A recent study conduct by Dr Armen Goenjian, a research professor of psychiatry and his team at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA  and published in the April 3 online edition of the Journal of Affective Disorders, suggests that there may be some inherited susceptibility to why some people get  post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and others don’t, even when they are exposed to the same trauma and fear inducing situations.

So maybe there is a gene involved in causing PTSD after all!

UCLA scientists have linked two genes involved in serotonin production to a higher risk of developing PTSD.  These findings suggest that it may now be possible to screen for PSTD susceptibility and news ways for treating the disorder may be on the horizon.

People can develop post-traumatic stress disorder after surviving a life-threatening ordeal like war, rape or a natural disaster,” explained lead author Dr. Armen Goenjian. “If confirmed, our findings could eventually lead to new ways to screen people at risk for PTSD and target specific medicines for preventing and treating the disorder.”

PTSD can arise following child abuse, terrorist attacks, sexual or physical assault, major accidents, natural disasters or exposure to war or combat. Symptoms include flashbacks, feeling emotionally numb or hyper-alert to danger, and avoiding situations that remind one of the original trauma.

We suspect that the gene variants produce less serotonin, predisposing these family members to PTSD after exposure to violence or disaster,” said Goenjian. “Our next step will be to try and replicate the findings in a larger, more heterogeneous population.”

Affecting about 7 percent of Americans, PTSD has become a pressing health issue for a large percentage of war veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The UCLA team’s discovery could be used to help screen persons who may be at risk for developing PTSD.

According to Goenjian, pinpointing genes connected with PTSD symptoms will help neuroscientists classify the disorder based on brain biology instead of clinical observation. Psychiatrists currently rely on a trial and error approach to identify the best medication for controlling an individual patient’s symptoms.

To Know What Causes PTSD

What is causing PTSD may now indicate a genetic predisposition to getting PTSD if exposed to traumatic situations such as war conditions may help with managing trauma and the ‘re-wind technique’ can be supported by more targeted medical interventions as well.

This is interesting and good news.  Will keep you posted!

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In learning how to deal with anxiety, the issue of prescribe medicine often crops up. Have you found yourself wondering whether you need to take medication for your anxiety?

In short, Yes and No

I have already cover some of the conditions when the taking of medication is advisable, especially if the primary problem is depression with anxiety as a component of the Mood Disorder.

 

This is when you must use professional help

Two big issues which you need to be aware of  in working out how to deal with anxiety are:

  • Some medications, especially the Benzodiazepines, used to quell anxiety can be addictive, especially after long-term use, and should not be terminated suddenly as it is quite likely to trigger a panic attack.
  • Be careful of self medication with OTC drugs, alcohol, herbs or other compounds as they often lead to an array of secondary problems.
  • Some of the anxiety disorders respond well to SNRIs, such as Effexor, and in some cases may be all you need.

Medication and How To Deal With Anxiety?

As part of the process of learning how to deal with anxiety you should educate yourself on ‘good’ and ‘bad’ medicines for anxiety attacks. If you don’t have the ability to do this then find a medical practitioner or better still a psychiatrist you trust to help you.  Often it is necessary to take some medication during the anxiety treatment process, either as a bridging support or to help with the physical symptoms. In these instances, medication such as, beta blockers, sleeping tablets and SNRIs and SSRIs may be used.

Also, don’t be naive about herbs and so-called natural medicines as a way with how to deal with anxiety. Just because they are called ‘natural, as they can cause as much mischief as prescribed medication or are a complete waste of your money. Too many people think that just because they are ‘natural’ medicines, they must innately be safe and effective.  Often, there is very little good scientific evidence to support any of their claims. (By good science I mean double-blind studies or before-and-after studies with sufficient and good samples that appear in peer-reviewed journals and not the promoting companies  in-house magazine).

If you are insistent on using ‘natural’ methods for treating your anxiety, then use thought control, breathing and desensitization methods as these will have more success on the long-term and no  negative secondary effects, instead of alcohol, social drugs or OTC.  Anxiolytics, do have many side effects, but in the hands of a skilled physician dosage balances can be achieved to positive results and management of the side effects.

First prize however is to get treat your anxiety difficulties without medication, or limited use thereof.  If this is not working then don’t suffer unnecessarily, but do go to a ‘real’ professional who knows what they are doing.

How To Deal with Anxiety: Self Treatment Programs

You can manage, treat and deal with your anxiety on your own.  Not every anxiety needs to go to a psychiatrist or psychologist.  Anxiety Disorders are well disposed to self-treatment, provided you follow the warnings I have issued on when you must use professional help (see page on Self Help Treatment for Anxiety Attacks).  Also anxiety disorders, such as OCD and PTSD, need professional help in the beginning and then you can go onto a self-treatment approach.

For anxiety disorders such as, GAD, Panic Attacks and social phobia, and even separation anxiety are initially well disposed to a self-treatment, self-help approach.

If  you want to use a self-treatment approach in learning how to deal with anxiety then have a look at Panic Away because anxiety sufferers have had great success with this approach.

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