Researchers have discovered a link that suggests sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder may be linked to their genetic make up.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder may be linked to our genes.
That is the findings of a US study looking into whether our genes determine whether we are susceptible to fall foul to the disorder.
The group took 200 members of 12 families who had managed to survive the Armenian earthquake in 1988. The group then looked at the survivors DNA and investigated if any genes were responsible for suffering PTSD.
Two gene variants were discovered to affect production of serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for our behaviour and moods. It is these two gene variants combined that were found to affect individuals who showed signs of post traumatic stress disorder.
Now the findings have been published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.
Post-traumatic stress disorder affects millions worldwide and it usually rears its head after a person has suffered some form of traumatic event. This can be anything from a car crash, being involved in war, natural disasters such as earthquakes or a Tsunami or even being a victim of child sex abuse.
The symptoms of PTSD are usually a combination of stress, depression, traumatic flashbacks to a disturbing event and a feeling of numbness. Another factor of PTSD is an alertness to danger in any situation – as if expecting something ad to happen.
Even past relationships where a spouse or partner has cheated can bring on a form of PTSD and affect people in new relationships. It is as if they are “expecting the worse” to happen. This can have a detrimental effect on a new relationship where the victim of PTSD can appear almost “paranoid”.
What is surprising is that 3% of the world’s population is estimated to be affected in their lives with some form of post traumatic stress disorder.
During the study, the research team looked at the survivors of the Armenian earthquake in 1988. The earthquake measured 7.1 on the Richter scale. It killed over 25,000 people.
The team discovered that those who took part in the study, 90% had witnessed seeing dead bodies and 92% saw people with serious injuries.
The researchers then assessed the subjects for recognised signs of suffering from PTSD.
DNA was analysed in each involved and the scientists were surprised to see that those who showed signs of PTSD had two specific gene variants – TPH1 and TPH2. These gene variants combined were found to release less levels of the hormone serotonin – thus predicting the possible symptoms of those suffering depression and PTSD.
However, the group behind the research believe a broader study is required. If their initials findings are confirmed, better ways of determining PTSD and effective treatments can be implemented.