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A Leap Forward on PTSD

Researchers at the University of Minnesota Brain Sciences Center and Minneapolis Veterans Administration Medical Center have identified a biological marker in the brains of those exhibiting post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a severe anxiety disorder that often affects war veterans and others who have suffered traumatic events. PTSD can manifest in flashbacks, recurring nightmares, rage, or hypervigilance . Complications can include alcohol and drug abuse, violent behavior, and suicide.

Researchers were able to differentiate PTSD patients from healthy control subjects using special magnetic imaging, (MEG). The measurements are unavailable with conventional brain scans such as X-ray, CT, or MRI.

The discovery is a major advance because currently there are no objective diagnostic tests for the disorder; diagnosis depends on the subjective judgment of the clinician. An objective test could give doctors a way to accurately diagnose the condition, assess its severity, and evaluate treatments. It could also guide those who decide who is entitled to disability payments and who is fit for redeployment.