By September 17, 2011 204 Comments Read More →

Research finds brain changes due to PTSD

New research has found a specific change in brain chemistry due to trauma. An article on Medscape.com says:

“Lower serotonin 1B levels were also strongly associated with age at first trauma. The earlier the trauma exposure, the greater the brain alterations and the greater the severity of PTSD symptoms, and the greater the risk of developing comorbidities,” senior author Alexander Neumeister, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, told Medscape Medical News.

“These findings establish that trauma at a young age causes long-lasting neurobiological and psychological effects in survivors with PTSD. In other words, early-life trauma can interfere with normal brain development,” he said.

The article is somewhat technical, but lay readers like us can pretty much follow what is being discussed. To read the story, you need to register for Medscape.com, which is free.

Read Potential new drug target for PTSD on Medscape.com.

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204 Comments on "Research finds brain changes due to PTSD"

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As more and more research is done on the chemistry of the brain, I think there will be a corresponding understanding just how vital it is to nurture our young and to protect them from abuse. I think it will also help former victims to realize this is not just “something to get over” any more than you would tell a person with a broken leg to just “suck it up and get over it,” but would know that they required medical care to recover.

The injuries to our spirits, minds and emotions may not be VISIBLE like a broken leg can be, but they are REAL and this is just one of the studies being done that shows just how REAL the injuries done by abuse are.

Children who have been abused at an early age have damage done to them that makes them vulnerable targets for more abuse at a later age as well. It is really good I think that medical SCIENCE is starting to recognize this. Wish I could be around in 100 years from now when more is known about this.

Thanks for posting this.

Actually, yesterday I was thinking that I feel completely transformed, not just temporarily off-kilter. This article confirms my senses.

The idea that PTSD is something we need to return from or just pass through seems inaccurate, now that I am knee deep in the experience. I realize that this person that I am left with is ME, for better or worse, and I’m different now. I might not have guessed it to be an actual brain difference, but the feeling is very strong. It feels like I need to focus on cultivating what I have become, rather than just trying to “get it over with” and get back to being who I used to be. This is me now. A survivor. Someone who notices red flags and listens to them. Someone who deeply understands what it means to come face-to-face with evil, and therefore understands that evil does exist. The whole world looks different to me now. I cannot just wipe my mind clear of all these lessons and “get over it” to become that naive person I was before.

I am glad to hear there is some science behind this. I think this can help a lot of people dealing with PTSD, and also those who love people dealing with PTSD. People who have family or a loved one with PTSD might be waiting around for that person they used to know to come back, which might even make healing harder if this is expressed to the person trying to heal. This new information could give people the perspective that they should instead create, nurture, and especially renew bonds with a survivor, taking them as they are NOW and looking to the future with them.

Oxy, it is unfortunate that there even needs to be more information to get it through to people that they should nurture and protect children from abuse. What a world! It seems like common sense to me, but it’s true that not all adults seem to understand something so obvious. It would be nice if this was clear already. However, I agree with you. This should drive the point home even more for parents who don’t innately register that protecting and nurturing children is crucial to their development.

Panther, there are so many things that can happen to a child that “abuse” them besides being beaten or devalued by a parent….the parent can die, or there can be a divorce or trauma going on with the parents in the family that effect the child.

It seems to me that some non-P parents who could work out a relationship with each other don’t make as much effort to do so because they don’t seem to think that divorce hurts the kids….but I firmly believe it does traumatize most kids even in a “good” divorce. (Is there such a thing?)

I think children need a stability in their lives in the people they are bonded to….but “life” gets in the way of that stability sometimes…job transfers, death, divorce, illness, and other things that are not necessarily in the control of one or even both parents…so we can’t always protect our children from the traumas or serious abuses of “life” no matter how hard we try. However, I think we need to realize that these things ARE traumas to the kids, even at an early age, and can mean that they need EXTRA nursturing and teaching from the people who are their mentors and parents.

Unfortunately, sometimes we are also “injured” at the same time in which the trauma occurs (like in a divorce) and when our kids need us the most, we are able to give the least because of our own injuries.

The many parents here who are themselves injured by the divorce/separation from a psychopath, are also trying to (at the same time) mentor, parent and support a CHILD who is ALSO injured by that same separation/divorce and abuse.

Could this also mean that those who were abused and/or neglected by their parent/s at a young age are more apt to abuse others themselves as a means of protecting their own ego?

Sheila, I think so….

I think abuse can do two things to a person, for some of us that do not carry the gene to make us prone to APD/NPD, it will cause trauma and sometimes PTSD. For the others, I absolutely believe that abuse is at the root of what makes a person with the potential to be APD/NPD a full-blown APD/NPD.

I have a terrible history with APD/NPDs and keep going back to them. I am in therapy working on my FOO which makes me prone to seek these types of people out.

But in the meantime, I may as well do my own case studies on these guys, since I have had relationships with 4 guys, and 3 were full-blown APDs and the other one was just slightly NPD.

The one that was slightly NPD had been neglected as a child, with maybe just a small amount of physical abuse in the form of discipline. Although he is quite self-centered, he is not vengeful nor prone to the rages that usually accompany NPD/APD.

My 2nd husband was abused terribly as a child. I have a PO against him, as he is full-blown APD/NPD and totally unable to be reasoned with or show empathy.

3rd husband also APD/NPD. Also abused terribly as a child, including sexual abuse. Had conduct disorder as a child. Takes the facade of KISA but became a cop to satisfy the power & control needs of a NPD/APD. Also sex addict. No empathy for others but quite able to feel sorry for himself.

Last boyfriend (left this one before marriage so I am doing a little better here)….also severe abuse as a child. Also full blown APD/NPD. Also alcoholic and unable to handle responsibility of any kind.

So, IME, abuse as a child does really come into play when you look at what makes someone sociopathic.

The next time I consider dating, I am going to ask about his childhood. And talk to other family members, in depth, as #2 and #3 totally hid their childhoods from me.

I think it’s not so much “what happened” to a child (or an adult) necessarily, but how they interpreted the event. I have known siblings from the same family who reacted completely differently to the same events. For instance, I have a friend whose father was very covertly sexually abusive toward the two daughters. For some reason due to her resiliency, my friend was not nearly as traumatized by it as her sister was. Different people process the same events differently. I believe these “events” as Oxy stated do not have to be related to beatings and rapes. I believe we also absorb emotional states from our parents and the environment before we were born. We might internalize some comment made by someone in the operating room while we are under anesthesia. Some people are also more sensitive than others, and this will effect how they internalize events. Those who believe in reincarnation believe that you can even carry trauma from past lifetimes. These become part of our energetic patterning, keyed into our bodies and psyches even before we are born.

Once we find a way to release these patterns we can develop “resiliency”. Resiliency means having a set of coping skills to help us avoid being vulnerable to the same traumas again.


The “same sun that hardens the clay also melts the wax” so what the basic composition of the person/object is the SAME environment will act differently on them. No two people have exactly the same DNA AND ENVIRONMENT, even identical twins With identical DNA have somewhat different environments so may respond to a family situation differently.

My sons were raised pretty much in the same environment, but not identical, so with different DNA and a different environment they turned out differently, and I’ve seen people who were horribly abused as children turn out wonderfully and their sibling who was the “golden child” and privileged turn out to be a piece of carp! Since it is difficult to measure DNA as far as psychopathy is concerned (at this stage anyway) and environment as well, it is difficul to say for sure which is the most influencial, DNA for environment, but we do know that they both play a part.

Had a weird memory loss event today. Went to the movies to go see Tintin’s adventures (I’m Belgian, so extra interesting to go see a Spielberg movie about one of our national comic heroes… an Indiana Jones avant la lettre). Anyway, I put off my cell phone. Watched the 3D movie and for the life of me afterwards couldn’t remember the pin code. Last week I did it without thinking. Now I failed 3 times, had to go home to find the PUK number to reinstall a new one. But I’ve never forgotten my in before. Now I’m wondering whether watching a 3D movie in 3D might affect the brain in so much that when it’s already memory weakened by PSTD that it gets a meltdown?

CRS in 3D ? Oh My !

no Darwinsmom. it’s oldszeimers. 🙂 in coming years, you will speak to Friends and not for the life of you recall their name and then two seconds after you turn away, you’ll remember. 🙂

ps my ptsd messed up my short term memory but not long term.

I had a dream of you last night. I was talking to you on the phone and told you it would be easier to look for a relationship and then ask your partner to dress western than to look for a western man who would be your partner. Think it was b/c I watched Tom Selleck before bed. 🙂

Katy – I have halfszeimers. or did I already say that? where did I put my keys?

Tom ?

Oh halfzeimers is better than oldszeimers. Too many people keep agreeing with ME! Think I’ll steal halfzeimers from you….

🙂 !!!!!!

Make sure you get a mental and PHYSICAL examination/evalutation for your PTSD. Many symptoms of PTSD are also symptoms of serious medical issues like I have. I should have seen a GP much sooner than I did, I just thought it was PTSD. Oh boy… was that sooo wrong. I have a thyroid disease that gives symptoms simlilar to PTSD until it gets so advanced that I was almost comatose. Make sure you check it out. Don’t wind up using a cane like I did before I figured out it was more than PTSD.
Blessings to you!

Katy: in coming years, you will speak to Friends and not for the life of you recall their name and then two seconds after you turn away, you’ll remember. 🙂

Euhm I never remember names.. LOL.. only faces! Just ran into my first one night stand of 11-12 years ago. We neither of us could remember the name… LOL… but we remembered everything else that was decent to talk about.

Did anybody else just feel the earth quake? 5.6 – I thot I was passing out, the house was swaying and the earth was growling.dont like em..

Holy Moly Hens……5.6 is a biggie!
Can’t say I felt yours…..but we had a 4.8 brief one last week.
Stay grounded and stop wiggling dear!

Hey Eb guess it takes an earthquake to get your attention, it was at 10:53 pm, we had a 4.8 earlier this afternoon – I am not looking forward to 11-11-11..so how have you been EB?

Hey EB!!!!
OMGoodness! Hope you all survive those earthquakes! I will have to check the national weather and news!!

What happens on 11-11-11?
I felt ya’ll rattling and rolling and thought…..Hmmmmmm better check on Mr. Hens!!! 🙂

NotCrazee….I just lost a looong post to you! DAMN!

Earthquakes are nothing for us westcoasters…..but the Oakies…..are another story! 🙂

Not sure what an oakie is!!

I was saying that I have Graves. It’s sucky and it takes time to get the meds leveled out. And each dose increase takes up to 6 weeks to level in your body…….so give it time if the first RX doesnt’ fit you.
I started on Synthroid 50 mg. And ended up on 25 mg increases until I got to a level of 325 that works for my body! It’s a super high dose……and my dr. is shocked that’s where my body feels best!
I started Hyper…..and those symptoms SUCK! My heartrate was 130 laying in bed. It felt like I had a heart attack waking up. I lost 50 lbs in 3 weeks….i looked like a wet noodle.
My weight has gone UP/DOWN/UP/DOWN…….and I just couldn’t do anything about it.
Your thyroid controls so much!!!!
Go with HOW YOU FEEL!!! and be aware of how you feel in order to communicate this to your DR.
If your Endo doesn’t listen to you or your body…..and just goes by your bloodword, insist to them…..YOU KNOW YOUR BODY!
They need to take BOTH into consideration…..and there is so much confusion in the med field about what ‘numbers’ are ‘normal’.
If my Dr’ hadn’t of listened to me…..I’d still be taking 5 hour naps daily, crying all the time, with no hair left and 40000 pounds!!!

Take care of yourself!!!! It’s IMPORTANT!!!!!

Hey EB…. Hows the bears? LOL!! I hope you are doing well! I am OK! I get by!

Hens is an Oakie…….

Sorry about that. God told me to “fall back”.

EB, I am very fortunate that I had hypoT as a child and it went away during my adult years and have the same doc as I did as a kid. He knows me, my physical and mental health. Now that I have gotten older hypoT has come back and it damn near killed me!! I thought it was PTSD. WRONG!!!!! I got a sermon from him the last time I saw him. I have had a full work up on my thyroid and it is normal size, no nodules, no cancer, no goiters, just darn slow as heck! Only 11% on the uptake test. The meds have made me sicker than I was. I will get through this too. It’s just a tweak of meds and bloodwork. Who knew that would come back to haunt me as an adult? I have had everything checked and I am OK other than the thyroid. I am very lucky! BUT the PTSD does carry symptoms similiar to thyroid and many other physical diseases

No bears at the new house, not that i’ve seen! I finished the move in early Aug…..never saw my friend after spring arrived and they put bars over the culvert he was denning in.
I did have cub prints on my car this summer……but I never saw him.

Life is real good right now…..things are really looking up! My stress is released……and life is very manageable! I got a job offer from a client…..and I picked up another client right after I moved…..Both are life changing financially for me!
It’s funny how we attract things…….and when we are in the shitpile……we just keep scooping to keep breathing….but when we crawl out….stay positive…..how things come our way!
It took awhile…..but there was a reason I needed to get out of my home….
Now i’m financially free…..and Monday i pay off my last CC…..I have no debt……and a great income coming in! My stress worries are behind me. Kids are good and my stress being released and the improvement in our lifestyle has greatly affected their postive outlook on life also!

Not to say shit doesn’t still come our way…..but we are affected less by it……because it’s more manageable.
I’m not wound so tight……so to speak. There is more room to wiggle around it all and prioritize the shit!

I accomplished my goal to model behaviors and stand up and fight our way out from under the spath and all his destruction.
Just recently……we got to see the results of my ‘battle’…..and reap the rewards!
I’m very proud of myself and the kids!
Kids got to see…….the shit doesn’t last forever…..we can’t lay down and give in to it…..we have to keep fighting for the happiness and life we want. Only WE can achieve this!

I never thought I’d be able to achieve or better the financial life I had with spath….because there was 2 of us working the business…….but i’ve surpassed that and I can do it ALONE!
WOW…..it still blows my mind how things work out!!!! REALLY!!!!!

I feel very fortunate!!!!

And you……I read about your thyroid troubles…..I’m sorry to hear about that! I hope your doing well!

I fully believe the stress brought on my Thryoid issues…..so i’m not surprised you have them now!

Has he checked your Vitamin D levels? If not ……get em checked with your next bloodwork.
Low VD levels also contribute to these syptoms.

I take 6000 IU a day…….when I went to MD Anderson for my treatment…..they had me on 50,0000IU every 4 days.
It took 3 months at that IU to get my Vit D levels up into range.

I’ve felt my body differnce when I’m low on Vit D….it makes a HUGE differnece to emotions also!!!!!

I have read “Living well with hypothyroidism” Mary J Shomon. That got me up to speed as an adult on hypoT. When I was a kid… I just took the pill everyday mom said to take until I didn’t need it anymore.
But yes.. as an adult… WOW!!! This carp sucks!! My doc and I have a great relationship and understanding. He gives me a big hug at the end of my visit and says… We are gonna get you back on track! I have been very healthy my whole life and a good patient for him and he even remembers by deceased parents. He’s an awesome old fashioned medicine doc! I love him!

hens < is an OKIE – not an OAKIE..
news is saying this was the biggest quake in OKLA. history…it makes me nervous – KATY stop fallin over PLEASE – I only have one nerve left and your messin with it..

Have you checked out….

Some good info and support there.

Funny….Jr just text me, he’s on a ‘ridalong’ with the cops…..they are tracking a bear!
I told him to leave it alone…..I don’t want my tax dollars working like that!!!!!!!
he assured me….rubber bullets only!

I reminded him that cops catch burglers and spaths…..NOT BEARS!!!! 🙂

Glad to hear that you have reached the top of the mountain and can look down with a full understanding of where you have been and what you have accomplished!!! You should be very proud of yourself….. bear or no bear!!! LOL

The Bear’s around here are just fat gay men, somehow they think bear sounds better than fat and overweight.

Oh Hens……Tomato…..Tomahto……
I won’t mess with ya darlen……not tonight at least!!!

Maybe it’s a good night to have a stiff one…..(well, I mean cocktail!)…….

Katy is falling BACK….not OVER!

Katy….you need a hand up sweetie?

Does that include hairy too?


When my daughter was real little, the babysitter told her that earthquakes happened when the land burped. One time she tooted when she was on the loo. And she said, uh oh mommy. My bottom burped.

So after your earthquakes, if it smells funny outside, you know why. Sumthun burped.

katy, who hoped Hens isn’t rubbing any hairy big bear tummies lately b/c it’s not the rubbing that dangerous, it’s the STOPPING. grrrrr.

Yes…I was D deficient, folic acid deficient, calcium deficient, b12 deficient…. high cholesterol, high blood pressure and a slow thyroid. No wonder I wasn’t feeling good. OH throw menopause on top of it! and add the spath to it!!!

I am on all kinds of supplements and meds too. I have never been so unhealthy before in my life!
My D is back up! Yippeee!!
The thyroid meds are making me so sick!!! It’s almost like a chemo/posioning feeling. I know it will get better.

I’m okay EB. It’s just “that time” of year. My funny bone is broken. Trying to get it started agin.

NotCrazee. On a serious note, I am SO tired. NO energy. SO angry at myself for my laziness. Had thought it was b/c of depression. I don’t have the money for all those tests. Which would you recommend is the most important test? Is there a cheap way to discover if a person is nutrient deficient?

Have a piece of CHOCOLATE CAKE……and laugh about it!!!!!

Or at least rub it on your funny bone…..I hear it has healing properties….BIG TIME! 🙂

Katy That was cute, kid’s say the funniest things..when my son was little he fell off the porch on his butt, he started crying and said he broke his butt, I said Let me look – “”No it’s not broke it just has a big crack in it”” I said .we laughed – we still laugh about that..

Katy….DO NOT get on yourself for ‘lazyness’…..I used to also.
Getting down on yourself only triggers other emotions…..and being harder on yourself.

I’ve learned…..when I just can’t get myself going….I lay on the couch and sleep…..all day, several days if that’s what it takes……I did it the last two days….and today I woke up and was ready to ‘move’ and get some things done!

It takes time…..but getting down on yourself only makes it worse…..give in…..it should only take a few days. The emotional drain is so HARD on our bodies…..don’t make it worse….YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF THAT!!!!!

I say get Thyroid checked……AND VIT D levels. at least.
If you can find county or non profit assistance, you can get it for cheap!
I am on a plan (nonprofit) and my bloodword is $5 a test.

do nut haf peec of choc cake. 🙁
didn’t make one. too much cake. too little will power.

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