Brain Damage May Protect Against PTSD?

A recent research conducted among war veterans have shown that a certain type of brain damage may actually protect some people from developing post traumatic stress disorder. Post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a condition that affects people who have gone through periods of extended and severe stress such as wars, accidents and other traumatic events. The symptoms that this condition present can drastically change one’s quality of life.

A study was conducted to try and find out what part of the brain that PTSD might occur on people afflicted by it. Researchers from the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke studied 193 war veterans who had both suffered brain damage during the Vietnam War and have personally experienced combat action. These soldiers have survived brain injuries usually as a result of shrapnel penetrating their brains.

Each of the veterans were evaluated if they have PTSD and their brain injuries also sorted out in an attempt to find a link between PTSD and the area of damage in the brain. Surprisingly, the results show that the type of brain injury that some of the veterans have suffered may have helped them avoid developing PTSD later on.

Researchers have discovered that the veterans that sustained damage on the two regions of the brain, namely the amygdale and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex or vmPFC, were the ones who did not go on to develop PTSD later on. Not one of the veterans who suffered damage in the amygdale suffered from PTSD while only 18percent of those who sustained damage in the vmPFC region of the brain developed the said condition. 40 percent of the veterans who suffered from damage in other parts of the brain developed PTSD. Surprisingly, around 48 percent of the veterans who did not suffer from any brain damage developed PTSD.

Researchers believe that this might make sense since both the amygdala and the vmPFC regions of the brain are known to be areas where emotionally charged memories are stored. The amygdala creates the memories arising from fearful and stressful events while the vmPFC stores the personal details that may surround a memory.

The study, although still quite early, might someday aim to find a possible treatment for PTSD. One of the possibilities offered include targeting the amygdala or the vmPFC and trying to lessen electrical activity in these areas as a means of treating PTSD. This might possibly help tone down or reduce the intensity of highly disruptive memories without trying to erase them.



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