Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an ongoing psychological response to the experience of stress. It may be characterized by anything from bad dreams to major behavioral changes to severe depression to violence against oneself and others. Now a new study published by researchers from the University of California Los Angeles suggests that traumatic brain injury can make a person more likely to suffer from PTSD. The study, published on February 15 in the journal Biological Psychology, comes after decades of speculation on the possible connection between these two conditions.
Some researchers have suggested that the link between the two conditions might simply be incidental, since brain injury occurs under stressful situations, but UCLA researchers sought to prove that there was a mechanistic link between brain injury and PTSD, that brain injury caused PTSD in some way or another. The study looked at the impact of brain injury on the psychological function of rats. Researchers found that rats who had acquired brain injury were more likely to develop fear under stimulus than uninjured rats.
Researchers even looked at the amygdala—the brain structure that controls fear learning–of injured rats to see how they were made more susceptible to fear after brain injury. They found that brain injury led to more receptors for excitatory neurotransmitters that promote learning in the amygdala. In other words, the brain responds to brain injury by increasing its ability to learn fear. It is unclear whether this is the result of the injury itself or a follow-up adaptation.
If you have suffered a brain injury, your acquisition of PTSD is an important part of your injury and deserves compensation. To learn whether you may be able to receive compensation, please contact The Cochran Firm South Florida for a free case evaluation.