The Role of Biology and Physiology in Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (hereafter referred to as PTSD) has only been a diagnosable disorder since the 1980s. However, it has most likely been around for much longer. People have been experiencing intensely stressful situations and events throughout the history of the world and has long persisted in humans under different guises before it was officially recognized as the disorder PTSD. Only recently have scientists been able to further research of this disorder physiologically. There is evidence that the immune system is affected by psychological stressors and traumas. Others have hypothesized that PTSD is partially caused by the expression of specific genes. Some claim that there is a hereditary predisposition to PTSD, evidenced by biological research.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to intense trauma in which extreme physical harm was threatened or occurred. This changes the fight or flight response within a subject so that they may feel anxiety or stress even when they are not in danger. Examples of traumatic events which might trigger PTSD include natural disasters, terrorist attacks, military combat, vehicle accidents, assault, or domestic violence. It can also develop from repeated minor stressors such as work or personal relationship problems. PTSD causes numerous symptoms. The subject can relive their trauma and have nightmares. They may avoid places, objects, or people that remind them of their experience. They might lose interest in former hobbies or have trouble remembering their traumatic event. They may also be hypersensitive, tense, have frequent angry outbursts, and have difficulty concentrating and sleeping. When people have these symptoms that last for more than a month after a traumatic event, they might have PTSD.
According to David Feinstein and Dawson Church in their article Modulating Gene Expression Through Psychotherapy, “vulnerability to PTSD is related to whether certain stress genes are active or inactive at the time of a traumatic experience. A person whose genotype includes specific known variations of the stress-related gene “FK506 binding protein 5,” or FKBP5, is more likely to develop PTSD following a highly traumatic incident than a person who does not carry these variations of FKBP5.” They go on to state that in any “genetically vulnerable” individual who experienced a “supportive, nontraumatic childhood, FKBP5 is less likely to be active than it would be if the person suffered childhood abuse.” This correlates to the “clinical observation that people who were abused as children are more likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic experience in adulthood than those who had more favorable childhoods.” Feinstein and Church confirm that “inherited genetic profiles may make a person more vulnerable to PTSD.” They also say “when treating PTSD or augmenting resilience against PTSD in vulnerable individuals, a predisposing FKBP5 variation still cannot be altered or removed, but interventions that inhibit its expression are possible. These interventions might, for instance, mitigate the effects of childhood abuse by introducing corrective therapeutic experiences that turn off FKBP5 or that turn on genes that suppress the effects of FKBP5.”
This article and research has the best chance of having an impact on the future stance for the disorder PTSD. Finding a specific gene that relates to the onset of PTSD is huge for the many people who suffer from the disorder. There is a great opportunity for the treatment of PTSD to evolve past cognitive behavioral therapy and into the surgical or medical field. In today's society that demands instant gratification there is no doubt that most people will suffer the cost and/or mutilation of the body to try and rid themselves of this debilitating disorder instead of the possibly long and daunting task of working through it...
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