Mental Health News – Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) found an association between post-trauma brain activity patterns and long-term mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In a NIHM-funded AURORA study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, the lead author Jennifer Stevens and other co-authors monitored more than 3000 people for up to one year after exposure to a traumatic experience. They aimed at identifying the factors that play pivotal roles in trauma survivors’ psychological health over time. They investigated the post-trauma brain activities of 69 participants who witnessed a car crash.
The researchers measured the participants’ brain activity via functional MRI two weeks after the accident. The participants completed a series of standard computer-based tasks as well. Over the next six months, they participated in digital surveys and self-reported symptoms of PTSD, disassociation, depression, anxiety, and impulsivity.
The study findings showed that various patterns of stress-related brain activity could predict long-term psychological health symptoms. The data collected from this analysis revealed four distinct profiles, such as reactive, low-reward/high-threat, high-reward, and inhibited.
Another analysis was performed by the researchers with a separate group of 77 participants who were exposed to a range of traumatic events but not limited to car crashes. It found evidence of three of the four profiles, including reactive, low-reward/high-threat, and inhibited.
Steven discovered that those with reactive profiles reported higher levels of PTSD and anxiety symptoms over the six months. But with this second analysis, no relation was found between any brain activity profiles and mental health outcomes.
According to the researchers, it requires additional experiments with larger samples to confirm the study findings. But they also suggested that the establishment of reliable and predictive profiles of the stress response will improve the treatment and satisfy each trauma survivors’ needs.
To Know More You May Refer To:
Stevens JS, Harnett NG, Lebois LAM, van Rooij SJH, Ely TD, Roeckner A, Vincent N, Beaudoin FL, An X, Zeng D, Neylan TC, Clifford GD, Linnstaedt SD, Germine LT, Rauch SL, Lewandowski C, Storrow AB, Hendry PL, Sheikh S, Musey PI Jr, Haran JP, Jones CW, Punches BE, Lyons MS, Kurz MC, McGrath ME, Pascual JL, Datner EM, Chang AM, Pearson C, Peak DA, Domeier RM, O’Neil BJ, Rathlev NK, Sanchez LD, Pietrzak RH, Joormann J, Barch DM, Pizzagalli DA, Sheridan JF, Luna B, Harte SE, Elliott JM, Murty VP, Jovanovic T, Bruce SE, House SL, Kessler RC, Koenen KC, McLean SA, Ressler KJ. Brain-Based Biotypes of Psychiatric Vulnerability in the Acute Aftermath of Trauma. Am J Psychiatry. 2021 Oct 14:appiajp202120101526. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2021.20101526. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34645277.