It is clear to anyone living or working with abused and neglected children that trauma suffered in childhood is carried into adulthood at great personal expense to the child.
Every year, we read about useful new methods of addressing trauma, yet in my 12 years working with children in child protection I rarely saw abandoned kids receive the mental health services that they needed to lead normal lives.
Prozac, Ritalin, and other psychotropic medications are readily available, but without consistent access to therapy, abused and neglected children are often doomed to live with the PTSD that makes them behave in ways that cost them their place in our community.
Here are a few PTSD articles on the topic that I found on BBC that were very powerful; http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6897406.stm
Brain target for stress disorder
Patients with PTSD can be offered counselling
Blocking a molecule in the brain may “cure” post-traumatic stress disorder, according to US researchers.
They showed that inhibiting a specific enzyme removed fear in mice and report to journal Nature Neuroscience that the finding may lead to new treatments.
Around a third of people may suffer PTSD after an exceptionally traumatic event, such as a terrorist attack or a natural disaster.
Experts said it was early days but the findings were worth exploring further.
This data points to a promising therapeutic avenue to treat emotional disorders and raises hope for patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or phobia
Professor Li-Huei Tsai, study leader
There is currently no treatment for PTSD although antidepressants and sleeping pills can help with the symptoms, which include flashbacks, anger, anxiety and depression.
Professor Li-Huei Tsai and colleagues in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department at MIT looked at the effects of an enzyme called Cdk5 in the brains of genetically engineered mice which had been given mild foot shocks.
When re-exposed to the same environment but without the shocks, mice in whom the researchers had increased levels of Cdk5 activity had difficulty letting go – or extinguishing – the memory of the foot shock and continued to freeze in fear.
But in mice whose Cdk5 activity was blocked, the bad memory of the shocks disappeared when the mice learned that they no longer needed to fear the environment where the foot shocks had occurred.
The enzyme activity was modified in the hippocampus – the brain’s centre for storing memories.
Emotional disorders such as post-traumatic stress and panic attacks stem from the inability of the brain to stop experiencing the fear associated with a specific incident or series of incidents.
A study conducted by the US Army in 2004 found that one in eight soldiers returning from Iraq reported symptoms of PTSD.
The National Institute of Clinical and Health Excellence estimate five in 100 men and 10 in 100 women in the UK will get PTSD in their lifetime.
In guidance published in 2005 NICE said the condition was under-recognised in the NHS and better screening and treatment was needed.
Professor Tsai said: “This data points to a promising therapeutic avenue to treat emotional disorders and raises hope for patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or phobia.”
Dr Jonathan Bisson, senior lecturer in psychiatry at the University of Cardiff and co-chair of the NICE guideline group said the finding was “potentially a significant advance”.
He added: “Translation of them into an effective treatment for PTSD is a long way off, and may not be possible.
“But the results are consistent with current theories on the development and maintenance of PTSD symptoms and it is an area very worthy of further investigation.”
Humans have six hour window to erase memories of fear
Humans ‘have six-hour window’ to erase memories of fear
Memory fuels our fears
Humans have a six-hour window of opportunity when fearful memories can potentially be erased, a study says.
Reliving a harrowing memory opens what experts call a “reconsolidation window” – a time-limited period when it can be changed from bad to good.
A New York University team was able effectively to neutralise fearful memories by acting within six hours.
They hope their work, reported in Nature, will ultimately help those with disorders like post-traumatic stress.
In the study, the volunteers were wired up to electrodes and given a shock each time they were shown a picture of differently coloured squares to make them fearful of the image – which they did.
A day later, the investigators worked on banishing the fear.
Our results suggest a non-pharmacological, naturalistic approach to more effectively manage emotional memories
Lead researcher Dr Elizabeth Phelps
They re-exposed the volunteers to the same image, but this time without the shocks.
They found that this worked, but only if the volunteer was first made to recall the fearful experience and, critically, made to recall it no longer than six hours before the “treatment” commenced.
Also, the treatment only blocked fear for the specific coloured square for which the fear memory was recalled, suggesting that the erasure is highly specific.
People need to realise it is the memory that is fearful and not the current reality
Professor Anke Ehlers
Lead researcher Dr Elizabeth Phelps of New York University said: “Timing may have a more important role in the control of fear than previously appreciated.
“Our memory reflects our last retrieval of it rather than an exact account of the original event.
“Our results suggest a non-pharmacological, naturalistic approach to more effectively manage emotional memories.”
Professor Anke Ehlers, an expert in post traumatic stress disorder at London’s Institute of Psychiatry, said: “Talking about the traumatic memory can help. That’s a common element of therapies.
“People need to realise it is the memory that is fearful and not the current reality.”