BYU Scientists Investigate Drug-Based Prevention for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder



Drug-based PTSD prevention

In a groundbreaking study conducted at Brigham Young University (BYU), researchers are exploring the potential of using drugs for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) prevention.

Led by neuroscience professor Jeff Edwards, the study focused on administering drugs to rodents before subjecting them to traumatic situations, with promising results that suggest the prevention of cellular-level brain changes associated with PTSD.

A Paradigm Shift: Pretreating PTSD Risk Groups

Traditionally, drugs for PTSD have been administered reactively, with individuals taking a pill after a traumatic experience to mitigate the formation of strong, distressing memories.

Edwards and his team are challenging this approach by investigating the possibility of preventing the formation of traumatic memories before they occur.

The targeted groups for this preventative treatment include first responders and military personnel known to face high-stress situations.

Rodent Study: Testing Propranolol and Mifepristone

To assess the effectiveness of pretreatment, the researchers injected rats with propranolol and mifepristone—drugs commonly used retroactively to treat PTSD.

The rodents were then exposed to a stress-inducing environment, involving constant light exposure for two weeks and occasional introduction of a dominant rat to induce fear.

After a week, the researchers studied the rats’ emotions and memory by examining the amygdala and hippocampus, key regions associated with memory and emotional processing.

Findings: Drugs Normalize Memory Formation

The study revealed that rats exposed to stress without pretreatment experienced a significant 30-40% increase in long-term potentiation—a persistent strengthening of synapses related to recent patterns of brain activity.

In contrast, the rats pretreated with drugs exhibited long-term potentiation levels similar to a control group that did not experience stress.

According to Edwards, the drugs effectively brought the brain back to normal levels, preventing maladaptive memories and reducing the strength of recall associated with traumatic experiences.

This breakthrough opens the door to a preventative approach in memory formation, potentially eliminating some of the damaging effects of PTSD.

Stress Receptors: A Key Discovery

In addition to normalizing long-term potentiation, the pretreated rats also displayed normal functioning of stress receptors after undergoing trauma.

In contrast, the rats that did not receive pretreatment showed an 80% decrease in the functionality of stress receptors following exposure to stress.

This finding suggests that the drug-based pretreatment not only influences memory formation but also helps maintain the normal functioning of stress response mechanisms in the brain.

From Lab to Reality: Next Steps and Human Trials

While the preliminary results are promising, further testing on rodents is essential before advancing to human trials.

The researchers acknowledge the need for thorough validation and exploration of potential side effects before translating their findings into practical applications for PTSD prevention in high-risk individuals.

Student Perspective: “An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure”

Eric Winzenried, who worked on the project as an undergraduate at BYU, emphasized the importance of preventative treatment strategies.

Drawing on the adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Winzenried highlighted the potential efficacy of early intervention in mitigating the long-term impact of traumatic experiences.

While recognizing the preliminary nature of their work in rodents, he expressed optimism that their findings could contribute to more effective treatments for the prevention of PTSD in high-risk populations.

Conclusion: A Step Closer to PTSD Prevention

BYU’s groundbreaking research represents a significant step forward in the quest for preventative measures against PTSD.

By challenging the traditional reactive approach, the study offers hope for a future where individuals at high risk for trauma, such as first responders and military personnel, can receive preemptive treatment to safeguard their mental well-being.

As the research advances, it holds the promise of revolutionizing the way society addresses the mental health challenges associated with exposure to traumatic experiences.

— Share —

Up Next

Redefining Normal: Let’s Talk About Intellectual Disabilities Without Stigma 

intellectual disability

Intellectual disability is a mental health condition that rarely gets recognized and is frequently misdiagnosed. It is also frequently mistaken as learning disability and this lax in diagnosis and treatment can have major consequences for an affected individual in the long run.

What Is Intellectual Disability? 

Intellectual disability involves a series of neuro-developmental conditions marked by limited intellectual functioning and poor adaptive behavior. These limitations are often observed on the onset of developmental periods and therefore affect the overall growth and socialization abilities of affected individuals.

Up Next

Holiday Gratitude: The Science Behind Joyful Connections and Well-being

Holiday Gratitude

Gratitude Affects Our Well-being: Scientific Evidence

While the holiday season is typically a time of celebratory merriment, it also provides an opportunity to explore the science behind gratefulness and its immense influence on how happy we feel.

It’s not just a matter of good manners; holiday gratitude has a way of improving our emotional well-being as positive psychologists reveal.

The Connection Between Gratitude and Happiness Revealed

Up Next

Unveiling the Depths of Owner-Pet Dynamics: Groundbreaking Study Examines Mental Wellbeing and Attachment Styles

Owner-pet attachment

Exploring the Complexity of Owner-Pet Attachment

Based on an extraordinary study by University of Helsinki, they delved into the intricate dynamics surrounding owner-pet relationships in order to shed light on how attachment styles (anxious and avoidant) play a role in the mental wellbeing of both parties.

This is a groundbreaking research since it involves approximately 2500 pet owners as w

Up Next

Dr. Jessi Gold Named Inaugural Chief Wellness Officer for University of Tennessee System

Dr. Jessi Gold

A mind-blowing move has been taken, that will redefine the mental health support within higher education.

Dr. Jessi Gold has been appointed as the inaugural chief wellness officer at the University of Tennessee (UT) System and is set to change the game in mental health support.

Dr. Gold is already known for her advocacy around healthcare worker mental health, burnout, and raising awareness about mental health issues from her immense expertise in this area.

The appointment o

Up Next

Mastering Stress Management in Modern Times: Strategies for Inner Balance and Peace

Internal Resilience

Stress in Modern Life

Stress has always been part of human life and has taken various forms since the emergence of humanity.

The concept of stress, however, is a complex interaction between the body and the mind in response to difficult stimuli.

While it can help people make more efforts, grow internal resilience and survive, sometimes stress can cause serious problems for mental and physical health.

Up Next

Colonel Dipak Patil Leads Successful 17-Day Rescue Operation at Silkyara Tunnel

Rescue Operation in Silkyara Tunnel

Colonel Dipak Patil, who had been the general manager of the National Highways Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) and a member of the Indian Army’s Corps of Engineers, emerged as the game changer during 17 days daring rescue operation in Silkyara tunnel.

In an interview with Prasanna D Zore, Colonel Patil delved into the nuances of the pulse-pounding rescue operation and shed light on the various challenges that the team faced during their strenuous efforts.

Up Next

Why Me? Why Not Me? The Enigma Of Individual Responses To Childhood Trauma 

childhood trauma

Childhood trauma such as abuse, neglect or exposure to violence always leaves a lasting mark on the victim’s mind. Nonetheless, one intriguing query still lingers: why is it that some people are affected by childhood trauma while others respond to it with resilience and adaptability? This essay addresses various factors which contribute to divergent responses to childhood trauma by examining genetic, environmental and individual factors.

The role of genetics at the frontline of the discussion on individual susceptibility to childhood trauma is something that cannot be overlooked. Studies have indicated that certain people are more prone to develop menta