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CNS & Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets


ISSN (Print): 1871-5273
ISSN (Online): 1996-3181

Mechanisms of Developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: New Targets for Drug Development and Other Potential Interventions

Author(s): Sunil J. Wimalawansa

Volume 13, Issue 5, 2014

Page: [807 - 816] Pages: 10

DOI: 10.2174/1871527313666140711091026

Price: $65


The post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is defined as a severe anxiety disorder that develops after exposure to an event with actual, threatened, or perceived death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of oneself or others that results in significant psychological trauma. Moreover, the ability of people to handle acute severe stress experiences varies among individuals. Depending on the underlying personality and resiliency, therefore, PTSD can occur in individuals exposed to exceedingly stressful incidences or those who have encountered seemingly less overwhelming stressors. In addition to severe stressful exposure, multiple other factors including genetic susceptibility; past experiences; cultural, spiritual, and personal beliefs; bullying and harassments; and lack of support at the workplace, social, and home environement may contribute to the development of PTSD. Author investigated multiple potential mechanisms for the development and sustenance of PTSD based on the recent literature and his own experiences and insight. Based on this search, author indicates that among other pathological and biochemical abnormalities, hormonal aberrations are most likely key mechanisms initiating and the maintenance of the PTSD. These pathophysiological neuro-hormonal changes instigate maladaptive learning processes caused by sustained high levels of anxiety and fear, through a hypo-responsive hypothalamic-pituitary axis and hyper-responsive catecholamine system (persistently elevated blood norepinephrine levels and lower than appropriate glucocorticoid levels). In addition to having inappropriately low serum cortisol levels and high epinephrine and norepinephrine levels, patients with PTSD also have mitochondrial dysfunctions and other hormonal abnormalities. Based on these data, author concluded that these pathological, biochemical and sustained neurohormonal abnormalities are likely to influence the structural brain changes, particularly in the amygdala and hippocampus, which are characteristics of patients with PTSD. Considering these abnormalities, neuroendocrine system needs to be considered as a key target for new drug development for prevention and treatment of PTSD.

Keywords: Cytokines, homeostasis, hormones, neurons, psychiatry, stress, structure-function, trauma.

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