<p>NIMH Fact Sheet
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Research
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety
disorder that some people develop after seeing or
living through an event that caused or threatened
serious harm or death. Symptoms include
flashbacks or bad dreams, emotional numbness,
intense guilt or worry, angry outbursts, feeling
“on edge,” or avoiding thoughts and situations
that remind them of the trauma. In PTSD, these
symptoms last at least
To aid those who suffer with PTSD, the National
Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is supporting
PTSD-focused research, and related studies on
anxiety and fear, to find better ways of helping
people cope with trauma, as well as better ways
to treat and ultimately prevent the disorder.
This research fact sheet will highlight several
important areas that NIMH researchers have
recently learned about:
possible risk factors,
treating the disorder, and
next steps for PTSD research.
For more information about PTSD, please see the
NIMH Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder booklet.
You can also find a list of places to find more
information about PTSD and NIMH at the end of
this fact sheet.
Research on Possible Risk Factors for PTSD
Currently, many scientists are focusing on genes
that play a role in creating fear memories.
Understanding how fear memories are created
may help to refine or find new interventions for
reducing the symptoms of PTSD. For example,
PTSD researchers have pinpointed genes
Stathmin, a protein needed to form fear
memories. In one study, mice that did not
make stathmin were less likely than normal
mice to “freeze,” a natural, protective
response to danger, after being exposed to
a fearful experience. They also showed less
innate fear by exploring open spaces more
willingly than normal mice.1
GRP (gastrin-releasing peptide), a signaling
chemical in the brain released during
emotional events. In mice, GRP seems to
help control the fear response, and lack o