How new research on PTSD is helping local veterans

Published: May. 6, 2022 at 11:07 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - New research at Augusta University is changing the medical landscape when it comes to dealing with negative emotions.

The study is taking a microscope to negative emotions — examining how they impact brain function

Post-traumatic stress disorder involves the unwanted retrieval of memories. That’s triggered by spontaneous cues that were independently associated with the traumatic event, said Dr. Almira Vazdarjanova, project researcher at the Medical College of Georgia.

People with the disorder find themselves in a negative emotional state more often.

The research showed that being in a negative emotional state impacts people’s function in a neutral, emotional environment.

“Their brain is encoding new information as it’s coming in,” Vazdarjanova said. “It’s something that should be emotionally neutral, but their brains are interpreting it as having a negative emotional valence because it’s being encoded when they’re in an emotionally negative state.”

Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center is using the findings from this study, plus additional research, to help evaluate which veterans benefit from therapy, who does not and who is less likely to relapse.

“What we’re able to do with research is to start to advance the knowledge of what are the causative agents looking at individuals that are more susceptible to PTSD or some of the clinical manifestations of PTSD,” said Dr. Tom Hartney, associate chief of staff for research at the veterans hospital in Augusta.

And if doctors can find what about patients’ brain makeup makes them more likely to suffer from PTSD, there may be a way to remap it.

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