Genetic Prediction for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?

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Researchers, including one from Northern Illinois University, in DeKalb, Illinois, where a gunman killed five students in a classroom and then shot himself, recently published research showing a genetic link to symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as noted in The Chicago Tribune. This was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Archives of General Psychiatry.

Intriguingly, Dr. Holly Orcutt, an associate professor of psychology at Northern Illinois University, had obtained research data on a number of women students before the attack, and was able to obtain further data afterward. She discovered that students with a particular genetic variation related to serotonin more frequently showed symptoms of PTSD than those students without this genetic constellation.

The researchers reported that 52 percent of the women with a particular genetic variation reported PTSD as opposed to 43 percent without the variation. The study is limited by a small sample size and also a relatively low predictive power. Yet, it is an important step toward further understanding why some individuals are prone to suffer PTSD whereas others experiencing the same phenomena remain emotionally unscathed: genetic predisposition.

“The study could help guide efforts to understand and treat the disorder,” said Orcutt.

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