Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Symptoms and its Relationship to Corticosteroid Dysregulation
The Graduate School, Stony Brook University: Stony Brook, NY.
Stress is the subjective experience of encountering or being affected by psychological or physical threats. Depending on the situation and the individual's ability to adapt to the particular event will affect how the individual continues to function. Memory can be both adaptive and maladaptive to the individual recovering from the stress of the event. It is known that part of successful adaptation is remembering the important events of a trauma in order to better decide how to react in possible, similar future events. However, certain individuals can develop Post traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD) as a response to an event. PTSD develops after exposure to a traumatic event and sufferers experience symptoms such as flashbacks of the trauma, hyper-arousal, poor concentration, and difficulty recalling explicit memories of the traumatic event. The question becomes why do these individuals develop PTSD while others do not. To understand how the stress response of PTSD sufferers differed from the stress response of individuals who do not have the disorder I first researched the typical role of the hormones which are involved in the human stress response: the corticosteroids (both the mineralocorticoids and the glucocorticoids), and norepinephrine. Through my initial research I found a large body of literature devoted to experimental treatments of PTSD with corticosteroids. This led me to further study why corticosteroid treatments could be effective and how corticosteroid dysregulation could relate to PTSD. Additionally some research was done on current and experimental treatments for PTSD.