Because PTSD has such a broad base of literature surrounding it, I chose to look at an article that reviewed multiple studies. The first part of the paper discussed how researchers still don’t really know how to categorized the breakdown that occurs with PTSD. This article gave three possible options 1) that it is a response to “toxic exposure” that can then become generalized and effect the daily life of the patience, 2) that if is a failure of the recovery system because of over use of certain brain regions such as the amygdala, or 3) that it is a disorder in forgetting or the inability to forget. This article then went on to discuss different brain regions that have been identified using neural imaging. Brain imaging studies have implicated the amygdala (increased blood flow), the prefrontal cortex(decreased blood flow), and the hippocampus in PTSD. One study identified the hippocampus as being smaller in patience with PTSD, but found this to be a predisposing factor rather than a result of the disorder. The perrhinal cortex has also been shown to be an indicator of the recovery after trauma. As you can see there is a wealth of literature surrounding PTSD and different brain regions, so there would be a lot to explore!
This article also reviewed literature on the serotonin and the 5-HT2A receptors. Basically stress enhances serotonin in the amygdala which then reduces the excitability of the amygdala by increasing GABAenergic transmission to the basolateral amygdala nucleus (BLA). The process is very important for normalizing emotion, and some studies have suggested that symptoms of PTSD could be a result of these neurotransmitters malfunctioning in the amygdala. In one study, a small sample of war veterans suffering from PTSD was given a 5-HT2A agonist, and they showed significant improvement in their symptoms. Another study showed with PET scans that the density of 5-HT2A receptors decreased in drug naïve depressed patients. These studies suggest that 5-HT2A and serotonin can be implicated in the symptoms of PTSD and depression.
Another interesting aspect of PTSD is the multiple animal models that exist for research. Some of these include foot shocking, forced swim, and predator induced stress. Since these models exist there are fewer limitations for research on PTSD.
Here is a video I found that show just how real PTSD is especially in America today. With many people returning from Iraq and with the victims of hurricane Katrina there are many people who could be helped from further research on PTSD. Also, if you look around there are some pretty sad stories on you-tube about PTSD, but I didn’t really want to post them since they were really difficult to watch.