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Gene Identified in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

For years researchers have been baffled as to why some people can witness a traumatic event and recover fairly quickly while others are quite literally haunted by the experience, suffering from nightmares and flashbacks. New research published in the Archives of General Psychiatry has singled in on a specific gene that may explain why some suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

Researchers studied college-age women who had been exposed to a mass shooting on Feb. 14, 2008, on the campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. Through a series of questionaires and genetic analysis, scientists found that some people are more disposed to suffering from PTSD because they have certain variants of the SLC6A4 gene that helps regulate serotonin. Serotonin is a brain chemical that helps regulate mood. Those with the gene may have a higher risk of developing PTSD symptoms in reaction to trauma.   

PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder that can occur after you've seen or experienced a traumatic or violent event that involves the threat of injury or death, such as domestic abuse, rape, war, terrorism or assault. PTSD has been highly studied in those who witnessed the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers and in those who have served in the Iraq War. While more research is needed, this new bit of genetic info may help predict those who might be more likely to suffer from PTSD and therefore help them to get more complete treatment sooner.


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