Malibu, CA (PRWEB) September 23, 2013
If as a child, someone stole your lunch money every day on the school bus, you would likely be apprehensive about getting on the bus. But if the person stealing from you moved, the anxiety you once felt about riding the bus would likely diminish or stop entirely. This is called "memory extinction," the replacement of conditioned responses as one moves away in time from a difficult or traumatic event and new experiences are had. Now, scientists believe they may have found a gene that can enhance memory extinction, which could be good news for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In those with PTSD, conditioned responses such as hypervigilence or an exaggerated startle response, invade a person’s everyday life. PTSD is treatable and those who suffer from it can return to a normal life, but it takes a great deal of psychological work, and often expense, for that to happen. The brain is changed during traumatic experiences. The work to compensate for these changes can be intense. But if doctors could trigger a gene to help ease the intensity of responses to trauma, the process of overcoming PTSD could become significantly easier.
"This work is in its very early stages," said Dr. Damon Raskin, a medical doctor and addiction specialist. "However, the results are promising. One of the main underlying causes of addiction is pain or trauma. Individuals experience an event that they don’t know how to deal with, don’t have to skills to process, and it becomes stuck in the brain and body in ways that impede normal social function. Many people self-medicate, abuse substances, to feel better. I often see patients who suffer from both unprocessed emotional pain and addiction. If we had better tools to help those with trauma, we may be able to help some people avoid becoming addicts and better treat those who are suffering from addiction, by changing the way they relate to past traumatic events."
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Source: Sunset Malibu