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Monday, November 10, 2008

IsraScience: Using Hormones To Stop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD for short) is a condition that probably affects millions of people around the world who have survived life threatening events (such as war, natural disasters, etc.).

Although a range of treatments has been developed in to help patients overcome PTSD, a group of Israeli scientists from the Ben Gurion University may have found a unique way of thwarting PTSD by using hormones.

(Israel 21st Century) New research by Israeli scientists from Ben Gurion University and Tel Aviv University, suggests that a large dose of a stress hormone may reduce the risk of PTSD, and its associated symptoms. The researchers, who report successful results in an animal model, are hoping this therapy could one day restore life to people who have experienced trauma. [...]

Using mice, the researchers took a control group and a group of mice presented with a stress stimulus: litter soaked in cat urine. In about 25 percent of the cases, those presented with the cat urine litter exhibited symptoms of extreme stress, such as an increased startle response and behavioral freezing when exposed to reminders of the stress. [...]

The researchers found that those mice that were given high doses of a cortisol-related substance, corticosterone, immediately after exposure to a stressor could be spared from the negative consequences of the stress.
While people may be nervous about using drugs (of any type) to deal with a psychological problem, this drug could work as a "last resort" if other means of treating PTSD fail.

Even though more research has to be done before humans are involved (as their is a lot of "red tape" whenever one deals with the government--unless its paying your taxes), this drug may help soldiers returning from the front lines deal with the trauma that they have encountered (not to mention survivors of floods and tsunami's as well).

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