As many readers may already know, post-traumatic stress disorder is a significant issue for veterans returning from conflicts overseas. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology might have discovered a means of creating a possible vaccine for PTSD. According to an assistant professor of neuroscience at MIT, soldiers may avoid the negative health consequences of trauma while retaining an intact memory of events. The potential of giving a vaccine to a vulnerable soldier which could prevent the formation of PTSD might help thousands of soldiers and others who might suffer from an unexpected trauma. Massachusetts General Hospital and MIT researchers are currently collaborating on a clinical trial.
Ghrelin, a relatively unknown hormone which is produced by the stomach, is the key to the MIT breakthrough. According to the professor, the more stressed an organism is, the higher the level of ghrelin produced by the stomach. Researchers found in experiments that rats given drugs to stimulate ghrelin production were more susceptible to fearful stimuli. When researchers blocked ghrelin receptors, the fear levels were reduced.
In addition to creating a preventative vaccine, researchers also have reason to believe that blocking ghrelin may also help individuals after they have suffered a traumatic event. If this turns out to be the case, the potential exists to help those who have endured unexpected trauma such as a natural disaster, childhood abuse or a terror attack.
It is not uncommon for a veteran returning from a dangerous deployment to struggle with PTSD, which may result in difficulties with personal relationships and employment. Veterans who are suffering from PTSD may be eligible for financial compensation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. A lawyer with experience in veterans disability may be able to assist a client in filing and perfecting a claim.
Source: FOX News, “MIT researchers discover possible ‘vaccine’ for post-traumatic stress disorder”, Molly Line, December 11, 2013.
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