Neurological deficits predispose a person to acquire PTSD

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by mbofov, May 4, 2006.

  1. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    Here is an article about a recent study which showed that susceptibility to PTSD appears to be genetic. It has long been thought that exposure to a traumatic event causes changes in the brain, resulting in PTSD, but this study done with identical twins shows that those who came down with PTSD suffered from mild genetic neurological abnormalities. A twin who didn't undergo a traumatic event had the same neurological deficit as his or her twin who was exposed to combat and later came down with PTSD.

    With all the recent speculation about CFIDS and genetic mutations, I found this particularly interesting. Here's the article:

    Mild Neurologic Deficits Appear to Increase Vulnerability to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

    CHICAGO, I.L. -- May 3, 2006 -- A study of identical male twins found that Vietnam combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and their non-combat exposed, identical twins had minor neurologic deficits that veterans without PTSD and their twins did not have, suggesting that those deficits are not acquired by exposure to traumatic events but instead may predispose individuals to PTSD.

    The findings appear in an article in the May issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

    PTSD is an anxiety disorder that develops after exposure to combat or another extremely disturbing event. Previous studies have found diminished volume of certain brain structures among individuals with PTSD, according to background information in the article. Researchers have proposed that the traumatic events experienced by these patients or the PTSD itself caused the damage. However, others hypothesize that some brain abnormalities may precede exposure to a traumatic event and increase the risk that a person who experiences such an event would develop PTSD.

    Tamara V. Gurvits, MD, PhD, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Manchester, N.H., and colleagues studied 49 male Vietnam veterans and their identical twins, who had not experienced combat. Among the veterans, 25 had PTSD and 24 had never had PTSD. All of the participants were evaluated by a neurologist-psychiatrist, who gave them a score of zero to three on each of 45 neurologic tests, such as copying drawings of figures. A higher score indicated the presence of a subtle neurologic finding associated with difficulties in behavior, coordination and learning.

    Veterans with PTSD had higher scores than veterans without PTSD, indicating the presence of more minor neurologic abnormalities. The non-combat exposed twins of the combat veterans who had developed PTSD also had significantly higher scores than the non-combat exposed twins of the combat veterans who did not have the disorder. The results remained significant even when the researchers adjusted for factors such as age, the number of traumatic events experienced that were not related to combat, alcoholism or anxiety disorders.

    The higher scores among PTSD veterans and their twins suggest a dysfunction in the cerebral cortex, the authors write. This part of the brain is necessary in reducing the fear response that occurs after a traumatic event. Therefore, this type of dysfunction could either increase the risk of developing PTSD after such an event or reduce the likelihood that individuals who do develop the condition will recover, increasing the likelihood of chronic cases.
    "It is also possible to phrase these relationships inversely," the authors write. "That is, a healthy nervous system may, for all the previously mentioned reasons, confer resilience in the face of highly stressful life events."

    This study was supported by a grant from the U.S. Public Health Service (Dr. Pitman), a grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Research Service (Dr. Gilbertson) and ongoing support from the Department of Veterans Affairs for the development and maintenance of the Vietnam Era Twin Registry.

    Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2006; 63: 571-576.

    SOURCE: American Medical Association
  2. kalina

    kalina New Member

    Thanks for the info. Very interesting!

    My neice has PTSD since she witnessed her roommate commit suicide last year. I have printed this out and will get it to her when I see her tomorrow. Hopefully, all this new research regarding genetics will lead to new treatments for all of us soon.

  3. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    There is treatment for PTSD which really works. It's called EMDR (eye movement desensitisation reprocessing). The name is a mouthful, but it's a technique used by trained therapists which involves stimulating alternate sides of the brain, using eye movements or knee tapping, maybe a few other things.

    They're not quite sure why or how it works, but it's theorized that when a trauma occurs, the brain gets stuck at that point. The EMDR work helps the brain to process the trauma so the person can go on with their life.

    It really does work - I'd been to counselors for years and years for trauma related to childhood sexual abuse, without much progress. The EMDR helped enormously, much more than anything else I had done.

    Other benefits are that it gets results relatively quickly, and its results are lasting.

    There's a main website if you google EMDR, and they can provide you with a list of counselors in your area who have been trained. EMDR has been used with hurricane victims, rape victims, the VA uses it with soldiers, and
    so on.

  4. lenasvn

    lenasvn New Member

    it sounds quite possible.

    I am thinking about that my mother abused Valium during her pregnancy and also breastfed me with it. It probably did a number on the development of my nervous system.

    My PTSD have been quite severe all my life (started during almost 3 year long hospitalizations (physical) during my infancy/ toddlerhood. My mother has it also for other reasons.
  5. kalina

    kalina New Member

    I appreciate the additonal info on EMDR. I'm so glad to hear it's working for you!

    My niece's parents are very supportive of her, and they are helping her get as much treatment as she needs, so that's great. As far as I know right now, that consists of counseling and meds, but I haven't talked to her in a while. I'll mention the EMDR treatment if they want to look into it. Thank you!

  6. Roseblossom

    Roseblossom Member

    Hi guys,

    That's an interesting article, Mary - I've long been interested in the way that

    people who have experienced previous trauma in their lives are more likely to develop full-blown PTSD after yet another trauma later in life.

    It seems that trauma (especially continual trauma like child abuse) disrupts and damages the entire nervous system's architecture & chemicals to the point where the brain's resilience is severely diminished.

    Subsequently, distress reactions to fresh trauma later in life are more pronounced.

    However, I only see that the twins all began with a neurological abnormality, which could have been caused by previous trauma - I don't see any mention of a genetic cause. Is my brainfog just missing that part? :)

    Though I wouldn't be surprised at all if there is a genetic component.

    I think trauma damages everything in an individual - physical and mental - so parents who've experienced trauma in their lives may very well have damaged genes.

    Best wishes,

    p.s. to Karina - I'm a big fan of EMDR too - I tried it during a very difficult time and it gave me immediate relief and was very healing.

  7. caroleye

    caroleye New Member

    Increases our acetylcholine (alpha waves) our brain's "on" switch, and we need serotonin & GABA (our "off" switches).

    That's what neurofeedback is all about........if you find a provider that understands this.

    I'm still overloaded with acetyl, so next is to go after my GABA & Serotonin.

  8. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    The article didn't state whether the neurological deficits were caused by previous trauma or not, but I assumed that they weren't. The whole point of working with identical twins is to identify what is genetic and what is due to external causes.

    It is possible that both identical twins in each set studied who developed PTSD had deficits due to earlier trauma, but I just think that's unlikely. But there's no way to tell from the article.

    You're right, there is other reserach which shows that trauma in childhood causes changes in the brain and body which weaken the ability to deal with subsequent stress and trauma. But I think the study is pointing out that there is a genetic component involved as well.

    I come from a family of 10 children, 8 girls and 2 boys, and I'm the 7th child. All 8 girls (now women) were molested by my dad, but I'm the only one who has suffered severe health problems. I also was told by a sister that I seemed the most fragile of them all. Who knows why I got sick and others didn't, but it could be I inherited weak genes, I don't know.

    We keep getting pieces of the puzzle, it would be nice to finish the puzzle!

  9. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    I tried nuerofeedback last year, and it didn't really help. But it seemed like the person doing it didn't really know what he was doing - I think he was experimenting to see what might help. I had insurance then through my now ex-husband so it didn't cost too much.

    I'm glad if it's helping you. I think the provider really has to know what they're doing for the neurofeedback to work.

    Re GABA and serotonin - I take l-theanine which helps the brain produce GABA, and 5-htp which helps with serotonin production.

    Keep us posted how the neurofeedback goes for you --

  10. caroleye

    caroleye New Member

    Unfortunately, this is so new to most providers that it is trial 'n error.

    The way I got some improvement was first by reading the book "The Edge Effect" by Dr. Braverman. His questionnaires educated me on the state of my chemistry.

    Then I worked w/my provider's knowledge of brainwaves & my knowledge of chemistry lingo to get my improvement. It took weeks of rollercoaster rides til I figured out what side; what sites, etc.

    I know it's helping, as I'm now having to reduce my thyroid dose, as my brain is helping my thyroid out as well.

    But everything I"ve done over the past 25 years has been "trial 'n error", and since drugs are difficult, I can only do my GABA RX. I recently did start 5HTP, and it helps as well.


    Can't wait til she returns so we can get ontop of my sleep issue...........& lower my acetyl.

    Will keep you posted.

  11. NyroFan

    NyroFan New Member


    Thank you for posting about PTSD. I have been doing some reading on it lately (just for my own general information) and your post rules in a new factor I did not know.

    Thanks again:
  12. Roseblossom

    Roseblossom Member

    and it's fascinating how all the factors combine and react depending on the individual and their environment.

    Keep posting this kind of info, please - I love reading posts here about new research and studies. I wish we could post links!

    I'm guessing you're familiar with the Eureka Science News site; what are some of your other favorite news sources?

  13. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    Thanks for the referral to Eureka Science news - I'd never heard of it before.

    I don't go to any particular site for news, but my home page is - I used to use cwnet as my internet provider, and their home page has links to current articles on daily news, politics, science, etc., so I scan their list of articles and once in awhile come across something very interesting like this study.

    And I read the L.A. Times and sometimes they have very interesting pieces, like the recent study by the CDC about the link between genetic mutations and CFIDS.

    And this board, of course, often has very interesting info. And that's about it - I know there is so much more out there, but I don't have the energy to do a lot of research. That would make a good thread, actually, for people to post their favorite sites for scientific and medical info, although they couldn't post the URL.

  14. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    You're welcome. Actually, I had forgotten about it because it first posted it last May. So thank you for bringing to my attention!

  15. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    This is an experiment in bumping - I've gotten several e-mails indicating people had bumped this thread but when I click on the link in the e-mails, the thread had not really been bumped, so I'm trying to see if I bump it myself if it actually gets bumped. More more than you wanted to know, I'm sure.

  16. NyroFan

    NyroFan New Member


    I am going to Google it now. I have long suspected that PTSD has bodily consequences. Maybe they finally hit the nail on the head.

  17. victoria

    victoria New Member

    I was going to mention neurofeedback, but I see you've tried it... too bad you saw someone who didn't seem to know what s/he was doing tho.

    My DHs PhD was in 'physiological psychology', ie, he was trained to do research on the nervous system, but then became licensed as a clinical psychologist and worked with biofeedback with pts a long time ago, he's now retired/disabled...

    but we've been relooking at biofeedback and specifically neurofeedback. He recently found a neurofeedback therapist who uses the LENS technique to help a friend's daughter who had PTSD -

    she was brutally and repeatedly raped in a state hospital during which her shoulder was injured as well, and which required surgery.

    Well, she couldn't go into any hospital without falling apart, for obvious reasons. But after I think about 10 neurofeedback sessions she was able to go thru with the surgery, and she is doing so much better in other areas of her life as well.

    We've been looking into it also to help restore cognitive functioning especially for our son with chronic Lyme - to the point of buying our own equipment, altho I think we will have him go to someone else to see if he gets positive effects first.

    I've read over the years of a few people with CF/FM who do feel better with neurofeedback but needed to keep going weekly in order to maintaint heir gains with cognitive functioning - unlike other diagnoses such as PTSD which had a finite number of treatments...

    which is what I didn't understand.

    But we believe the answer is this: if one has an infection causing the problems, obviously one needs to get ongoing treatment until one is rid of the infection for any gains to be permanent;

    There was at least one small study (30 people) that included people with CF/FM plus chronic Lyme... and they did find that the cognitive abilities were the first things regained, and with the FM and Lyme, that the pain abated and pts were able to get back physical functioning.

    At any rate, if you have the resources, it might pay to find someone who really knows what they're doing... for the PTSD at least, it is supposed to be a finite number of sessions. How your CFIDS or FM might interact with that, however, I don't know.

    all the best,

    [This Message was Edited on 10/19/2006]
  18. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    Nanjee -- Thanks for posting the article. I know there are many people on this board with PTSD and I've long thought there was a link between me getting sick and PTSD. The more information we get, the more power we have I think.

    Victoria -- Thanks for posting. I wish I had the resources to pursue neurofeedback further but I don't. At the time I did it, I had insurance which covered it, but no longer do. But, I have been helped greatly by EMDR (eye movement desensitisation reprocessing) therapy in dealing with sexual abuse. It is a very powerful technique which helps with dealing with all sorts of trauma, including hurricanes, rape, war, sexual abuse, and less severe trauma. The EMDR helped me after years of rehashing the same stuff over and over with traditional talk therapists. There's lots of info on the web about it.

    I truly believe that if EMDR had been available when I was 20, I would not have come down with CFIDS in my mid-30's.

  19. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    I don't mind at all your "butting in" - really, I appreciate your posting the article. The more information we all have, the closer we may come to solving the riddle of these DDs.

    Take care --

  20. Bambi

    Bambi New Member

    that I believe they will have a long way to really find a "cure". I know I've read in many studies that if a child is exposed to traumatic situations from early illness to observing parental abuse, it literally changes the wiring of their brains. As of the last thing I read it has been virtually impossible to rewire their brains BACK to their original condition.

    There is also the fact that it depends a great deal on how long a person waits before being treated for PTSD. Someone who addresses it within weeks or even a few months of the situation have much better recovery
    rates than those who wait years to try and correct the condition.

    I don't think it's a one way road to recovery either. From everything I've read it can take multiple forms of therapy to get relief. Even then a full recovery is not assured..or up to now hasn't been. I hope they will find a sure fire method that will work for this condition as it is as disabling as most any condition that people have to deal with.

    Triggering events have to be avoided also..and that's no easy job. A television show or movie, or just a loud sudden erruption of noise can send some one with PTSD into the "zone". Witnessing a violent act, if that is your particular trigger can lead to weeks of reliving the events or dreams about it. It is definitely a difficult condition for any one to try and over come.

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