Scientist at the Indiana University school wrote in a Molecular Psychiatry paper that stress disorders like PTSD are going underdiagnosed for military veterans and civilians. People with PTSD without a diagnosis will increase their risks of drinking more, abusing drugs, suicide or violence. The Indiana University did a study where a blood test was able to determine whether or not someone could have PTSD.

Reacting to Life-Threatening Events

PTSD can be very challenging where you always feel threatened at every move that something is ready to attack you based on a traumatic experience. The symptoms of PTSD do not go away on their own where they can come and go with the same intensity. By being diagnosed, you will know the correct course of treatment to take.

Biological Footprint

The researchers recruited and followed more than 250 veterans receiving treatment at the Indianapolis VA Medical Center. In this 10-year study, researchers ran a series of steps to identify and then reduce down candidate genes to those that most accurately track stress levels. The study began with searching for stress-related genes in the blood samples that the veterans were given during several visits. 

By comparing the blood samples of the veterans when they were in high or loss stress, researchers were able to pinpoint which of the 20,000 genes underwent significant changes in gene expression. The researchers cross-checked with health records and psychiatric tests results in independent groups. These checks revealed certain genetic markers showed predictions of high-stress states and future psychiatric hospitalizations related to stress. Researchers also compared the genetic markers to other markers of aging and stress such as telomeres, the caps on the ends of chromosomes that protect the integrity of the DNA.

Results of the Study

This study showed that biomarker signatures could help find which natural and synthetic compounds with the potential to treat PTSD might be beneficial. The team discovered that more than half of the top predictive biomarkers for stress were previously involved in suicide. The majority of these biomarkers had evidence in other psychiatric disorders which provides a molecular support of the effects of stress. The team is trying to get secure funding to translate their findings into clinical practice. With a blood test being able to determine whether or not someone has PTSD, there will be more people, both veterans and civilians alike, who will receive treatment before their symptoms get worse.

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