Researchers find new target for PTSD treatment

Current treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are inadequate--largely consisting of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication. So, often, victims of childhood abuse, domestic violence and war trauma end up with substance abuse problems as they try to self-medicate their symptoms away. Now, a team at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine have found a promising new therapeutic target that could lead to better drugs to treat PTSD.

Mount Sinai's Alexander Neumeister and colleagues got together with the Yale Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Center to image the brains of patients with and without PTSD. They found that serotonin 1B levels were quite a bit lower in the group of patients diagnosed with PTSD than in patients who did not have the condition, and slightly lower in the patients who had been exposed to trauma but did not have PTSD.

"Our research provides the first evidence of a novel mechanism in the brain, and sets the stage for the development of therapies that target serotonin 1B receptors, offering the potential to minimize the disabling effects of PTSD," Neumeister said in a statement.

The researchers also found that the younger the trauma victim, the longer-lasting the neurobiological and psychological effects on PTSD patients.

- read the release from Mount Sinai
- and the abstract in the Archives of General Psychiatry