About 7.7 million Americans struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, which is caused from exposure to a traumatic emotional or physical event. Much is still unknown about PTSD, but it can last a lifetime and is notoriously hard to treat. However, new findings out of Northwestern University might bring us one step closer to stopping the disorder in its tracks.
“These obstacles motivated us to design this experiment and try to intervene,” said Jelena Radulovic, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and Dunbar Scholar at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Radulovic headed a study that has pinpointed where PTSD occurs in the brain and has come up with a way to prevent it from developing in the first place.
Using an animal model, Radulovic’s team replicated the disorder in mice by creating stressful events that triggered chronic “exaggerated fear responses.” When traumatized mice were exposed to the place of initial trauma, they would freeze up 80-90% of the time.