The physical response to a traumatic experience in patients with PTSD
It is widely held that trauma can lead to chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The standard approach to diagnosis and treatment of PTSD has been to focus on the psychological response to the traumatic event. However, recent studies show that chronic PTSD may be a physical condition with some physiological differences from those without PTSD.
In a study published by the Journal of Psychiatric Research, it was found that patients with PTSD had markedly different brain morphology than control subjects. In specific, patients with PTSD had increased cortical thickness in regions associated with emotional processing and arousal.
In another study published in Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, it was found that patients with PTSD had significantly higher concentrations of inflammatory markers in their blood than control subjects.
Thus, it seems that the best way forward for treating PTSD is to refocus our efforts on understanding and treating the physical illness that results from trauma rather than treating the symptoms in isolation.