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Stress Hormone Might Help Overcome Fear of Heights
Date:3/28/2011

tuations?

The answer to the latter question is yes, but cortisol plays a more complicated role in learning and memory, which might explain this benefit.

People with phobias or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) aren't remembering the initial traumatic event when they have subsequent fearful reactions, explained Keith Young, vice chair for research of psychiatry and behavioral science at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and core leader for neuroimaging and genetics at the Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans in Temple, Texas.

Rather, they're remembering subsequent episodes of fear, Young said.

And it's those memories that need to be extinguished and replaced with new, better ones.

"Cortisol inhibits retrieval of the fear memory and promotes the storage of corrective experiences," said de Quervain.

Young said he has had some success using cortisol exposure therapy in people with PTSD.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Mental Health has more on anxiety disorders.

SOURCES: Dominique J.-F. de Quervain, M.D., director, division of cognitive neuroscience, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland; Keith A. Young, Ph.D., vice chair for research of psychiatry and behavioral science, Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, and core leader for neuroimaging and genetics, Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans, Temple, Texas; March 28, 2011, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online


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