By carefully tracking 5,000 people after they have experienced a traumatic event, a just-launched NIMH-funded study aims to provide a finely detailed map of the array of factors that play a role in the development of mental disorders that occur in the wake of trauma. Information coming out of the study should provide a much deeper understanding of the mechanisms that give rise to post-traumatic disorders as well as a clearer basis for predicting who will be affected and how best to target treatment.
Following a traumatic event—be it an assault, a car crash, or a combat experience—it is common for people to report a range of symptoms, including hypervigilance, intrusive upsetting thoughts, flashbacks, and changes in sleep and mood. These often co-occur with chronic pain and substance use, as well as other enduring effects from body or brain injuries. Most individuals gradually get better, but a substantial number develop persistent problems, often diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There is no reliable way to predict who will recover without treatment and who will develop lasting problems after trauma. Even when PTSD or other disorders such as anxiety and depression are diagnosed, symptoms differ person to person, as does response to treatment.
To read the rest of this Science Update, go to https://www.nimh.nih.gov/news/...ects-of-trauma.shtml