<--GAT-->

Amygdala Volume Associated with Combat Veterans’ PTSD

by U.S. Medicine

January 11, 2013

Amygdala Volume Associated with Combat Veterans’ PTSD

DURHAM, NC — Combat veterans with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) tend to have significantly smaller volume in an area of the brain critical for regulating fear and anxiety responses, according to a new study from Durham, NC, VA Medical Center and Duke University.

The study, published last month in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry is the first to provide solid evidence that smaller amygdala volume is associated with PTSD, regardless of the severity of trauma. What remains unresolved, however, is whether the physiological difference was caused by a traumatic event or whether PTSD develops more readily in people who naturally have smaller amygdalas.1

“Researchers found 20 years ago that there were changes in volume of the hippocampus associated with PTSD, but the amygdala is more relevant to the disorder,” said lead author Rajendra A. Morey, MD, MS. “It’s associated with how fear is processed, especially abnormal fear processing. So it makes sense to look at the structure of the amygdala.”

For the study, researchers enrolled 200 combat veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001. Half of the participants had been diagnosed with PTSD, while the other half had not developed PTSD, even though they had been exposed to trauma.

When amygdala and hippocampus volumes were computed from MRI scans of all the participants, researchers found significant evidence that PTSD among study participants was associated with smaller volume in both the left and right amygdala, and confirmed previous studies linking the disorder to a smaller left hippocampus.

The extent of depression, substance abuse, trauma load or PTSD severity did not explain the differences in brain volumes, the authors noted.

Morey said the study raises the question of whether some people may have a greater propensity for developing PTSD because of their inherently smaller amygdala volume.

“This is one piece in a bigger puzzle to understanding why some people develop PTSD and others do not,” Morey said. “We are getting closer to that answer.”

1. Morey RA, Gold AL, Labar KS, et al. Amygdala Volume Changes in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in a Large Case-Controlled Veterans Group. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2012 Nov 1;69(11):1169-1178. PubMed PMID: 23128809.


Related Articles

VHA Makes Progress in Improving Safety of Opioid Prescribing

VHA medical facilities should ensure that its providers are following three key opioid risk mitigation strategies, including conducting urine drug screening, a recent report recommended.

Too Little Sleep? Army Research Suggests Correct Caffeine Dosage

The Army's Performance Triad promotes quality sleep, physical activity and good nutrition, but when sleep suffers, a new tool developed by the Army can help.


U.S. Medicine Recommends


More From department of defense dod

Department of Defense (DoD)

DoD acknowledges its medical adverse event reporting is ‘unreliable’

The process for tracking the DoD’s most serious adverse medical events is “fragmented, impeding the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) ability to ensure that it has received complete information,” according to a new review.

Department of Defense (DoD)

Automation Speeds Results and Increases Accuracy for Point-of-Care Testing at Walter Reed NMMC

With a long history of point of care testing at both of its predecessor organizations, the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) laboratory services staff were keenly aware of the advantages of using portable testing devices to obtain rapid patient assessments.

Department of Defense (DoD)

High Rate of Pectoralis Tears Among Deployed Servicemembers Lifting Weights

Lifting weights is one way servicemembers keep in peak physical condition during deployment.

Department of Defense (DoD)

DoD Study Finds That Type 2 Diabetes Increases Breast Cancer Mortality

Having Type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM-2) increases mortality risk in breast cancer patients, regardless of whether diabetes was diagnosed before or after breast cancer, according to a recent study.

Department of Defense (DoD)

Now Hear This: Otolaryngologist Leads Effort to Prevent Auditory Issues

Among those who are exposed to combat, it’s the weapons fire that does it. In the Navy, it’s the noise levels in engine rooms and on the decks of carriers.

Facebook Comment

Subscribe to U.S. Medicine Print Magazine

U.S. Medicine is mailed free each month to physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and administrators working for Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense and U.S. Public Health Service.

Subscribe Now

Receive Our Email Newsletter

Stay informed about federal medical news, clinical updates and reports on government topics for the federal healthcare professional.

Sign Up