PTSD May Be Associated With Genetic Changes

By Emily Murray

There are a variety of events which can spur the onset of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Viewing any type of upsetting event, fighting in a war, being the victim of abuse or dealing with a natural disaster are some of the most common situations that can spur the condition.

Scientists have been studying PTSD in the hope of learning other ways to help treat and perhaps even help prevent the onset of this troublesome condition. Many patients suffering from PTSD are haunted by the upsetting memory and revisit it frequently in flashbacks even though they are trying their best to move on. They also have trouble relating to others, may seem fearful and are often hyper sensitive or “jumpy”.

This new research however has shed new light on why this happens to certain people.

There are in fact certain changes which take place at a genetic level that are now being associated with the likelihood that a person may experience PTSD after a traumatic event.

This theory was tested by examining 12 families who were survivors of the Spitak earthquake which took place in Armenia in 1988. The result was essentially that researchers discovered that some of the genes responsible for coding in the brain associated with the chemical serotonin were changed.

It would stand to reason that because PTSD occurs along with depression, that there would be a tie to serotonin, the chemical believed to play a part in regulating mood.

Researchers admit that there are likely many other contributing factors that weigh in when it comes to a person’s chances of developing PTSD, but it appears that these genetic changes do in fact have some relation.

In the future, this type of information may be useful since it can give doctors an understanding about who is most likely to suffer from PTSD and in the case of a tragedy, they can begin treating them right away.