The men and women fighting for our freedom often come home with various ailments, but one of the most dreaded is PTSD. While physical injuries heal over time, post-traumatic stress disorder is difficult to live with, and it leaves a person feeling unlike their normal self. There has always been some confusion over why some soldiers deal with a diagnosis, while others, who went similar circumstances, seem to escape it. A recent study found some new information that might be helpful in learning more about this disorder.
Researchers recently published their findings in JAMA Psychiatry after studying 1600 Marine and Navy service members from Camp Pendleton in San Diego County. Participants were evaluated before deployment, and then again 3 months after returning from their tour. They discovered that those who suffered a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury were twice as likely to develop PTSD upon returning home.
After further studies with animals, researchers discovered that head injuries often result in changes to the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for the fear response. A person who has not experienced a blow to the head has the ability to suppress fears and deal with them, but those who have experienced a traumatic brain injury have a heightened sense of fear that cannot be controlled. This explains why certain noises, settings, or even smells can trigger a PTSD episode.
Follow-up research involved scanning the brains of both military and civilian patients who had experienced a concussion. Not only was the activity in the amygdala heightened, but the area of the brain responsible for suppressing a fear response showed activity lower than normal.
Additional research will continue to explore this connection, and possibly help identify military personnel who may be susceptible to PTSD for earlier diagnosis and treatment. If you served in the military, are experiencing PTSD, and need assistance, contact us.