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New Therapy For Treating Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome

Post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) is a disabiling anxiety disorder, which was first diagnosed during the Civil War and later during World War I, as soldier's heart and shell shock respectively. // It has been found that even those who are affected by cancer and their families as well can also experience it.

According to foodconsumer.org, PTSD affects about 10 percent of those exposed to extreme psychological trauma, such as combat, torture, abuse, physical attack, sexual attack, severe accident, natural disaster or life-threatening illness.

People who suffer from the disorder re-experience the trauma in nightmares or intrusive thoughts. Many avoid reminders of the trauma location. Many become emotionally numb or show hypersensitivity to other events by doing things like getting startled easily.

Israeli and U.S. researchers have found relatively short periods of stress induced changes in mouse brain neurons that lasted for weeks and made them hypersensitive -- in a way also characteristic of people suffering long-term effects of traumatic stress.

In a study published in Science, the researchers said stress causes a shift in gene products -- called mRNAs -- by producing an unusual variant of the acetylcholinesterase or AChE protein. The variant protein AChE-R interferes with the transmission of nerve impulses that can affect memory and behavior.

Stress caused by a traumatic event can result in the production of the variant protein for a long time.

Most memories decay naturally, but people under extreme stress pump an abnormal amount of stress hormones during the traumatic event, so the memories are stored differently.

However, in the past few years there has been a greater recognition that some with cancer, as well as members of their families, can also have PTSD.

The gold standard for treating PTSD has been exposure therapy -- the patient tells his or her story over and over aga
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