Head Injury and PTDS

While scientists have known for some time of the connection between traumatic brain injuries and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the link may be stronger than previously understood. Brain injuries are one of the most common wounds affecting soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. While it is obvious that an explosion or serious accident that causes head trauma can also cause the psychological condition associated with traumatic experiences, it is not clear just how deep this connection goes. New research indicates that a traumatic brain injury may cause an elevated fear response that leads to PTSD. The studies are preliminary at this time, but they may help researchers diagnose, treat, and even prevent PTSD in the future.

The study focuses on the impact of a head trauma on the area of the brain known as the amygdala. This area of the brain has been identified as regulating a person’s fear response. It has also been identified as one of the areas most likely to suffer damage when a person receives a blow to the head. After a TBI, the amygdala can make many new receptors for the chemicals released by a terror-inspiring event. In other words, head injuries can make people respond to fear much more strongly than they normally would.

A person who suffers a concussion may be significantly more likely to develop PTSD due to a subsequent stressful event than a person who suffered no brain injury. Adding that to the known consequences of a traumatic brain injury underscores how important it is to seek full and proper medical care after any head trauma. Brain injury is certainly not the only contributing factor to PTSD, but it seems it is an important one. Hopefully this new knowledge will help the medical field find new ways to approach PTSD and to help the victims of this debilitating condition.