Posts tagged PTSD
Posts tagged PTSD
Like so many other things, people have individual differences in how they respond to different treatments. Some people respond best to psychotherapy, others to medications, and still others to both.
Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on ways of thinking and reacting to triggers for the PTSD symptoms and can help the individual to control these symptoms. I am going to copy three types that can be used from the NIMH site:
There are also a few medications that can be used to treat PTSD. Prazosin (chemical structure is the image above) is a somewhat common treatment that blocks the alpha receptor subtype for norepinephrine. We know that norepinephrine can activate the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) and so the alpha receptors, which are activated by norepinephrine, promote amygdalar activity and the fear response. Prazosin, basically, can block this. A newer one of the medications that can be used is Propranolol or beta blockers which can be given soon after a traumatic event to hopefully prevent PTSD. Beta blockers, which block the beta receptor type for norepinephrine, are showing some success at preventing or reducing PTSD. Please note that these explanations are very simplified, but they can give you the general idea.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Someone asked me to give more information about PTSD, so I thought I would do a couple posts about it. After depression and substance abuse, PTSD is one of the most prevalent mental disorders. An estimate of 70% of people in the US are exposed to a traumatic event in their lifetime (car accident, combat, physical/sexual assault), but only about 14-24% of these people will develop PTSD. It has slightly higher prevalence for women (10-14%) than men (5-6%), but is much higher in soldiers than civilians. For instance, 30% of Vietnam veterans had PTSD and almost half of prisoners of war developed PTSD in their lifetimes.
It is important to note that PTSD cannot be diagnosed until 30 days after a traumatic event, since some of the symptoms are “normal” to be seen immediately following the event. It is their persistence that creates a problem.
The criteria for diagnosis of PTSD are:
Criterion A - Exposure to a traumatic stressor.
Criterion B - Re-experiencing symptoms.
Criterion C - Avoidance and numbing symptoms.
Criterion D - Symptoms of increased arousal (i.e. hyper-vigilance).
Criterion E - Duration of at least one month.
Criterion F - Significant distress or impairment of functioning.
In the image above taken from the NIMH site, you can see the VMPFC and amygdala are highlighted. That is because the amygdala creates a fear response and the VMPFC is able to extinct a fear response. In PTSD, it is thought that this system is somehow hindered and the individual is unable to extinct the fear response.