Luis Montalván: Researchers to Seek Out Biomarkers for PTSD

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As PTSD remains a concern among veterans, a group of researchers at Draper Laboratory have announced a project that aims to develop a more thorough way of diagnosing the condition. As an advocate for veteran care, Luis Montalván responds to the research with optimism.

Although many Americans have become aware of the many health conditions that can affect returning soldiers, a recent article from The New York Times reveals that many cases of PTSD among veterans may be misdiagnosed. It states that the current assessment of PTSD may be inadequate, leading many professionals to believe that the mental condition is severely underdiagnosed. The article also reports that “some mental health experts raise concerns that the diagnosis is often given without sufficient rigor—and that as a result, resources are expended on people who do not necessarily need them, to the detriment of those who do.” Regardless of the current diagnostic procedures, Luis Montalván, veteran and proponent of veteran care, notes that the problem is increasingly apparent in American society. The article suggests that improper understanding of the disorder could be connected to the current increase in the military suicide rate.

Luis Montalván comments, “The misdiagnosis of PTSD is because both government departments have—over the past ten years—spent millions, if not billions, of dollars on countless studies without regard to one another. So, it's no surprise, yet still shocking, that the suicide pandemics within the Armed Forces and veteran communities are at all-time record highs.” However, the article reveals that a group of researchers at Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, Mass. are aiming to compile a set of “biomarkers” that could lead to uniform diagnostic protocol among medical professionals regarding PTSD.

As a supporter of such initiatives, Luis Montalván is optimistic about the new research, and hopes that it can lead to better treatment to those who are affected by the condition. The article explains, “The consortium’s goal will be to identify as many biological ‘markers’ of the syndrome as possible, then use that data to create algorithms capable of pinpointing who has the disorder, and who does not. Those ‘biomarkers,’ as they are commonly known, would range from well-known measures of anxiety—blood pressure, sweat-gland activity and hormone levels, for instance—to more complex and obscure measures derived from DNA analysis or brain imaging from magnetic resonance imaging tests.”

The article implies that while establishing a set of indicators could lead to improved diagnosis of PTSD, the research could also lead medical professionals to evaluate better courses of treatment. It states, “With new treatments emerging constantly—from prescription medications to psychological therapies to alternative approaches like acupuncture, yoga, and massage—such assessments are more important than ever.” Although establishing the biomarkers may require lengthy research, Luis Montalván is eager for the results. In the meantime, he encourages all Americans to raise awareness and support initiatives that aim to protect the well-being of military personnel.


Captain Luis Montalván served the United States Army for 17 years. Now an advocate for active duty military personnel, veterans, and their families, Luis Montalván supports the best interests of those who facing physical and psychological maladies associated with combat, training, and military sexual trauma.

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Lisa Smort
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