Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental disorder that affects a patient after experiencing or witnessing a shocking, terrifying, and/or dangerous event. In the United States about 9% of people will develop PTSD over the course of their lives. The disorder can result in a dramatic drop in the quality of life of patients as they may struggle to return to their everyday life after the experience.
People who experience interpersonal trauma, such as assault, are more likely to develop PTSD than people who experience a non-physical trauma, such as a natural disaster. Additionally, women are more likely to develop the disorder as compared to men.
There is some evidence that a percentage of patients who suffered from COVID-19 developed post-traumatic stress disorder after recovering from the virus. It is unclear whether or not that the virus caused the PTSD or the experience of contracting and recovering from the virus caused the PTSD. Whether or not the virus or experience caused the PTSD, some COVID-19 patients are still suffering from the disorder months after they recovered.
Currently available treatment methods are somewhat underwhelming as the underlying issue is often not treated. Thankfully, the research community is looking into new and exciting ways to treat PTSD. Stem cells may have the potential to create a powerful treatment method for patients that have PTSD. Stem cells could fix the underlying problem that causes PTSD.
What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Post-traumatic stress disorder has been documented since the time of the Greeks. The Greeks noted that soldiers often had trouble adjusting back to their civilian lives after returning from war and reconciling their actions in war. When a patient has PTSD their flight or fight mechanism is altered. This causes patients to feel stressed and fearful even when they are in a situation where they are perfectly safe.
When a patient has PTSD the amygdala and the mid-anterior cingulate cortex become over-stimulated when exposed to certain situations. This leads to the varying symptoms that a patient can experience. Symptoms can vary in intensity and can depend on a number of factors.
Patients with PTSD will avoid situations, people, places, and objects that may trigger their PTSD symptoms. This can cause patients to miss out on important events, as well as reduce their overall quality of life.
Patients with PTSD will experience vivid flashbacks to the event that caused the trauma. Patients cannot control when these intrusions occur and can be triggered by a variety of stimuli. Many patients also deal with nightmares related to the traumatic experience.
Cognition & Mood
PTSD can cause a number of cognitive and behavioral problems. Many patients report that they lose interest in activities that they once loved. Negative thoughts, including suicidal thoughts, are reported by patients as well. Patients often have trouble sleeping and concentrating. They also may engage in self-destructive behavior.
Patients may be overly skeptical of their surroundings and be easily startled. PTSD often causes patients to be more irritable and more likely to have a bout of anger.
Current Treatment Methods
The medical community has developed a few treatment methods that can aid patients who have PTSD.
Antidepressants are typically the first line of defense for the medical community. More specifically, SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) have been shown to be the most effective medication for patients with PTSD. One issue is that many patients have to be on antidepressants for a long period of time or even the rest of their lives.
After a traumatic event, many patients are encouraged to seek out counseling to talk about their experience. Some studies have shown that counseling and therapy can be helpful in preventing PTSD and stopping the disorder before it worsens. A patient discussing their experience and working through their emotions can help them overcome it before it becomes debilitating.
One of the more innovative treatment methods for patients with PTSD is a psychedelic. MDMA is often thought of as a party drug, but it may soon become a viable treatment method for patients with PTSD. MDMA can actually improve a patient’s ability to engage in psychotherapy and recall their traumatic events. Patients have reported that they were able to have more empathy for themselves when on the medication and engaging in psychotherapy.
Unfortunately, there is a group of patients who do not respond to conventional medical treatments. Researchers and the medical community have turned to regenerative medicine to attempt to develop new treatments and therapies that can help patients with PTSD. Stem cell therapy is a promising treatment for a variety of neurological conditions and disorders, which is why researchers are hopeful stem cells can make a difference.
Stem Cells In The Amygdala
Researchers have recently identified stem cells in a part of the brain that were previously unknown to the medical community. The amygdala is believed to be one of the main parts of the brain that changes when a patient has PTSD. A large study of veterans with PTSD showed that the volume of the amygdala was smaller than patients without PTSD.
This is potentially exciting discovery for patients with PTSD. Previously, the research community believed that a smaller hippocampus was mostly responsible for the symptoms of PTSD. This development gives the research community another area to look into in order to treat PTSD. Stem cells in both the hippocampus and amygdala may be the key to treating the underlying cause of the disorder.
A stem cell injection into the amygdala could replenish the stem cells in the area of the brain. Stem cells could encourage the growth of new neurons in the amygdala, which could alleviate the underlying issues relating to PTSD. A stem cell injection into the hippocampus could create a similar effect. The regenerative and anti-inflammatory effects of stem cells could alleviate the symptoms of PTSD.
There are currently no human studies that have fully investigated the use of stem cells to treat PTSD, sadly. However, there have been a few small animal studies that have investigated the use of stem cells for PTSD.
Some Promising Research
One study looked to test the capability of stem cells on rats with PTSD. These rats had reduced cognitive abilities, such as weakened locomotor activity, anxiety-like behavior, and memory alterations. One group of rats was given the stem cell transplantation and then they were evaluated over the course of 21 days.
The group that received the stem cell transplantation had a remarkable improvement in their cognitive function. This group had reduced freezing time, traveled a further distance than their counterparts, and were more interested in their tasks. The stem cells that were implanted into the rat brains differentiated into hippocampal neurons. The stem cells were able to replace the neurons that were damaged or dead in the hippocampus, which explains why the rats had such a remarkable improvement.
Intrathecal Stem Cell Therapy (Direct to Brain)
Stem cells that are administered via a spinal tap may be more effective and safe than a direct stem cell transplant into the brain. Stem cells administered in this manner can pass the blood brain barrier. If stem cells can reach the hippocampus and the amygdala then they can potentially repair and replace damaged or dead neurons in that area of the brain. This treatment method could help fix the underlying issues from PTSD.
Golden Stem Cells
Often stem cell therapies do not utilize the most potent stem cells that are known to man. There can be variation when it comes to stem cells, but BioXcellerator has changed all of that. BioXcellerator uses an extremely strict set of criteria when choosing the stem cells that are used in our treatments. These ‘golden cells’ ensure that our treatments are as effective as possible.
Regenerative medicine has the potential to change how the medical community treats PTSD. Reach out to your healthcare professional today to learn more about all of the new treatment options for PTSD. A patient could be missing out on the right treatment method for their PTSD and sacrificing their quality of life.