Could PTSD Be Genetic?


sadPost-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects millions of Americans, with especially high numbers of military personnel being diagnosed ever year. Witnessing a horrific or traumatic event causes the condition, which can cause panic attacks, nightmares and severe anxiety. Around 6.8 percent of Americans will develop the mental health condition at some point in their lives. While there is no cure for PTSD, most medical professions help patients with symptom management through talk therapy, medication or other treatments. But researchers are also looking for hints at what makes a person more susceptible to developing this debilitating condition.

A recent study found that there are genetic markers in the body’s immune system that are associated with the development of PTSD. The study involved 188 United States Marines who were to be deployed to conflict zones. Each participant had a blood sample taken before and after his or her time abroad. The researchers identified groups of genes that help to regulate the immune system, which is the system’s first line of defense. These genes also regulate interferon signaling, which is the release of proteins that signal the immune system to act.

The researchers found that participants who developed PTSD tended to have the similar group of genes in their immune systems, as indicated earlier. Earlier research hypothesized this immune system connection, but this study was the first to feature veterans both before and after active duty. It is hoped that the research will lead to more studies into biomarkers, which could help doctors develop simple blood tests to check for genetic susceptibility to PTSD. Since this mental health condition affects so many people, especially soldiers, early intervention could be key to preventing people who are already at-risk.

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