PTSD and Dynorphin

A recent study seems to suggest that they have isolated a chemical in the brain that is responsible for lingering anxiety and maybe PTSD. A major component in PTSD is acquiring the ability to forget the underlying traumatic events; and the level of dynorphin may have a direct impact in the ability to move beyond these anxiety provoking memories.

Study Shows Link Between Anxiety and Dynorphins

Studies have demonstrated that people with lower levels of dynorphins have more persistent activity in the amygdala, the area of the brain that governs the stress response. Dynorphins are a naturally occurring peptide that is also associated with the reduction of pain. There are three families of opioid peptides produced by the body: enkephalins, endorphins, and dynorphins. The increased level of dynorphin may play a key role in how one forgets the traumatic experience thus helping the anxiety or PTSD diminish. Endorphins that are released after intense exercise. Dynorphin is in the same family of chemicals and is responsible for mitigating the emotional response that is associated with stressful or traumatic events. Some people have a harder time than others stepping out of the emotional memory or ruminating over these events and it may be dynorphin that’s responsible for the difference. That is to say that our body chemistry does play a role in our thought processes and this would explain one of the reasons why people seem to have trouble with re-living past traumatic events. Understanding the body chemistry and how it relates to PTSD will lead to better PTSD treatment in the future.

A recent study showed that a group of mice were bred to not express the gene responsible for dynorphin had a prolonged stress response after being given unpleasant electric shocks. The mice remained anxious far longer after the shocks subsided than would be expected. Normal mice reacted to the shocks the same way early on, but as time passed, their stress reactions subsided at a normal rate.

Next, researchers applied the same logic to human participants whose levels of dynorphin fluctuate and vary by nature. People who had lower levels of dynorphin kept reacting to unpleasant stimuli longer than people who had more dynorphin. The people with lower levels of dynorphin also had more persistent activity in their amygdales, the area of the brain that governs the stress response. Finally, they also had less communication between their amygdalas and the prefrontal cortex areas of the brain which is responsible for conscious thought and executive function.

The Link Between Anxiety and Dynorphin May Lead to New and Better PTSD Treatment

Hopefully the results will lead to new treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD and perhaps for other anxiety disorders, which affect many millions of people across the world. This may even open the door to new medications that regulate the levels of dynorphin. Some studies have also concluded that dynorphin may serve as an antidote to cocaine addiction. Most PTSD treatment would entail medication,

exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy, maybe brain-spotting and other techniques of teaching you how to make friends with the "ghosts of the past". Read the complete study of Anxiety and dynorphin. The research was carried out by a team at Universit√§t Bonn. If you are seeking an experienced psychiatrist in Scottsdale or Phoenix; please contact me to schedule an appointment.
this article is for informational purposes and not to be used to diagnose or treat any illness