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Easing the stress of trauma
Date:12/1/2008

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects as many as one in five of all Americans who survive a harrowing experience like rape, assault, war or terrorism. It has emotionally paralyzed survivors of 9/11 and broken up survivors' families.

There is no broadly accepted treatment that can lower the chance of developing the disorder, but thanks to a Tel Aviv University researcher, a medical means of preventing PTSD may be just around the corner.

Prof. Joseph Zohar from the Sackler Medical School, Tel Aviv University, has found that an injection of cortisol shortly after exposure to a traumatic event may prevent the onset of PTSD. He is now taking his animal model findings to the U.S. National Institute of Health and hopes to start clinical trials on this exploratory research within the next year.

The research was recently published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

PTSD Can Strike "Anyone, Anytime"

Currently, a diagnosis of PTSD is made only after an individual has been living with an acute stress reaction for one month. By then it may be too late to counteract the syndrome.

"Ten to twenty percent of all individuals exposed to trauma develop PTSD," says Prof. Zohar. "The challenge is to try to prevent or reduce these numbers. Until now, the clinical and research focus has been on treating PTSD once it developed. We propose to shift the focus to prevention. Based on an animal model, our new clinical findings pave the way for a potential preventive treatment for future victims via cortisol injections."

Although experienced widely among soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan, PTSD can strike anyone anytime who has witnessed or experienced a life-threatening event. Its victims dissociate from loved ones and may relive the traumatic event through everyday triggers, such as the smell of a neighbor's barbecue or a sound on TV.

Normally, the production of cortisol,
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

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