There is some encouraging new research out on PTSD, and it could help the US military.
It’s currently estimated that up to 20% of U.S. troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, a condition that can be stubbornly difficult to treat. Symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, and learning and memory problems.
But what if PTSD could have been prevented in the first place?
Reporter Alan Zarembo of the Los Angeles Times says scientists have done precisely that with traumatized mice.
In an experiment that wasn’t exactly kind to the mice, researchers taped them to wooden boards for two hours, causing them to undergo extreme stress.
Days after this harrowing experience, they were given a drug that triggers a brain receptor thought to be involved in how we respond to fear. The drug prevented the mice from experiencing the symptoms of PTSD.
Emory University neuroscientist Raul Gali was the lead author of the study.
He says that similar drugs could one day be given to people after combat, car accidents or other types of trauma.
But Rachel Yehuda, a PTSD expert at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, questions whether it made sense to block the brain's natural responses to stressful situations.
Dr. Yehuda says "Some of these responses are there to protect the body and mind.”
"I am not sure that I would want a soldier in the field to go to combat without his fear response, because this might actually kill him."
For more on this story, go to latimes.com and enter “PTSD” in the search engine.I’m Bill Maier for WBCL.