Studies have shown that 61% of men will have experienced a traumatic event in their lifetime.
The National Co-morbidity Survey shows that 5% of men, nationally, will develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder during their lifetime. A study conducted and published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2005 concluded that 17% of Iraq war veterans suffer from either Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression or anxiety.
Fifteen percent of heart attack victims will suffer from PTSD.
The recently conducted study focused on men, and of course shows that people are all different in how they handle and react to stressful and traumatic situations. Even domestic strife, surgeries, accidents and the like can affect some deeply while others are able to more easily cope with severe trauma. Every person has stress hormones.
The effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder include those that are well known, such as depression, insomnia, anxiety, flashbacks and blackouts; but the effects that are not so well known are more physical than psychological, such as immune system problems, ulcers, and a significant increase in levels of a blood clotting agent which brings forth the condition of arteriosclerosis, which increases the risk of heart disease.
Researchers are studying the use of a drug called propranolol for treatment of those who suffer from PTSD. Some patients are being issued the drug while others are given the placebo. However, the patients do not know which they are receiving. Propranolol belongs to the drug family of beta-blockers which are already in use. These are currently being used for those who suffer from anxiety.
The study, being headed up by Dr. Roger Pitman, MD, focuses on having the medication administrated within six hours of the trauma. Other researchers try to stretch that window, and use a method, memory “reconsolidation,” which which a memory is revisited subsequentially after such memory is transferred to long term storage in the brain. One such researcher is Karim Nader, Ph.D., a researcher at McGill University, in Montreal. Nader practices memory “reconsolidation” and says, “But what I found is that once you access a memory, you have to restore it. to the hard drive all over again, or parts of it can get lost. ” He feels that because we do not know when trauma will strike, giving the pill within six hours might not be possible. “But we can control the memory now, bringing it back to the point of sensitivity no matter when it occurred. This could have implications for all sorts of problems: drug addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or anything where you need to change the wiring in the brain. ”
The drug can seriously alter the way the memory is viewed and felt by the patient, and some feel that it's unethical to administrator such a drug, and that doctors are playing God. However, a patient who could possibly benefit from the drug, Terrell Kyle, says, “It's not about playing God,” “It's about finding a way to feel human again.”