PTSD could be prevented with a pill

Written by: Lisa Stelzner

Primary Source: Daily Dose of Science Blog

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been getting a lot of press the past few years, especially regarding the number of active military personnel that are coming home from deployments with PTSD.  Scientists recently discovered how certain people can be susceptible to PTSD after experiencing severe trauma while others are not susceptible.  Scientists introduced a trauma to male and female rats (placing them in dirty cat litter), and a week later tested how anxious they were when placed in a maze and exposed to loud noise.  They divided the rats into two groups: vulnerable and resilient, and then examined their glucocorticoid levels (a hormone that helps us deal with stress).  Vulnerable rats had lower glucocorticoid levels. The scientists then repeated the experiment, but an hour after taking the rats out of the dirty litter, they gave half of them a drug that activates their glucocorticoid receptor.  Now, when the rats ran through the maze with the loud noise a week later, they were much less anxious than the vulnerable rats from the first trial that didn’t receive the drug. In fact, they were only slightly more anxious than a control group of rats that were never placed in litter.

The results of this research could prove very useful in creating drugs for people that are more genetically prone to PTSD.

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Lisa Stelzner
I'm a plant biology PhD student studying monarch butterflies in Michigan, but I'm interested in lots of other types of science, too. I am interested in how breeding monarch butterflies choose their habitat based on floral species richness and abundance. Few studies have been conducted on optimal foraging theory when it involves an organism searching for two different kinds of resources, and butterflies are an ideal study system to investigate this, since many species are ovipositing specialists and only lay eggs on one species of hostplant, but are feeding generalists and nectar from a broad variety of flowering forbs.