Genetic variations are claimed to be linked to the severity of post-traumatic stress disorder, a study report suggests.
A team of scientists from the United States studied the DNA taken from 200 members of 12 families who survived the Armenian earthquake in 1988.
It appeared that genetic variations, in two genes in particular affect the production of serotonin - which affects mood and behaviour – were more likely to have a PTSD than others.
The results were published in the Journal of Journal of Affective Disorders. The dangerous feature of PTSD is that any stressful situation can trigger the syndrome: either sexual assault, parents abuse or any other issue that may cause some sort of psychological trauma.
Symptoms of PTSD include emotional numbness (hyper-alert to danger), flashbacks and so forth. Usually people diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder are trying to avoid any kind of situations that reminds them of the original stress.
About 3% of earth population is likely to be affected by PTSD in the course of life. The aforementioned study, as said previously, were based on the victims of a terrible Armenian earthquake The Armenian earthquake, which had a magnitude of 7.1, occurred on 7 December 1988.
It affected the northern part of Armenia, the part of the Soviet Union at that time. According to the most modest statistics the disaster killed at least 25,000 people.
All of the participants had seen an earthquake. 90% of them saw dead bodies. 92% saw seriously injured people. They have been proposed to pass an evaluation of their PTSD symptoms if any took place, and, what was crucial for the study to asses the level of anxiety and other symptoms, associated with post-traumatic stress disorder.
It was found using a DNA samples taken from the Armenian family members participated in the study, that those participants who had the most severe PTSD symptoms were more likely to have to specific gene variations – TPH1 and TPH2.
Dr Armen Goenjian, the leading author of the study, suggested that aforementioned gene variations were likely to produce smaller amount of serotonin, making those individuals more susceptible to PTSD after a stressful situation.
However, authors said that it would be wise to make a number of further studies in order to find out whether results replicated in more heterogeneous samples.
But he also expressed hope that if further studies would confirm these findings it could help to find a proper medicine and screening methods for preventing and treating this stress disorder.
The leading author also suggested that a diagnosis of TPH1 and TPH2 genes could help military to identify who are more vulnerable to stress disorders, thus avoiding dangerous situations associated with additional stress.
Moreover, it was claimed that results of this study may help to find new drugs for gene therapy, which would help to avoid different PTSD complications.
The PTSD expert, psychologist Dr Jennifer Wild, said that results were crucial for the whole field, but now it is too soon to make any conclusions.
She also said that the proof of the link between PTSD and genetic variations was promising in terms of the future research.
Dr. Wild also noted that the facet people were questioned about their feelings and experience after the stress in some way distorted the results of the study.
However, it is unlikely that scientists can work with people in the mess of the natural disaster.
The current serotonin based therapy for PTSD is claimed to be replaced by psychological therapy. The latter is safer and supposed to have better outcomes, than the former.
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