The Unexpected Twist In How Your Brain Recalls Traumatic Events (M)

What people remember most from distressing events is not what you’d think.

What people remember most from distressing events is not what you'd think.

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The Best Treatment For PTSD — Whether Single Or Multiple Traumas (M)

Approximately four percent of the global population experiences PTSD due to traumatic events.

Approximately four percent of the global population experiences PTSD due to traumatic events.

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Why Traumatic Memories Are So Hard To Suppress

PTSD is thought to affect around one-third of people who experience a traumatic event.

PTSD is thought to affect around one-third of people who experience a traumatic event.

People who have experienced traumas find it harder to suppress emotional memories, research reveals.

The reason could be neural disruption in areas of the brain linked to suppressing memories.

The study helps to explain why people exposed to car accidents, medical issues or other traumas continue to relive emotional memories.

People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) find memories of a traumatic event continue to intrude and incapacitate them.

This happens even when they try to suppress the memory.

The conclusions come from a study of 48 people, some with PTSD, some who had been exposed to trauma, but not developed PTSD, and a control group.

Everyone was shown pictures and asked to suppress some of them.

The results showed that people who had been exposed to traumas found it harder to suppress the memory than the control group.

Dr Danielle R. Sullivan, the study’s first author, explained the results of brain scans conducted alongside the behavioural test:

“Neuroimaging data revealed that trauma-exposed individuals showed reduced activation in the right middle frontal gyrus, a critical region for memory suppression, during a memory suppression task and were less likely to successfully suppress memory compared to non-trauma exposed individuals.

These results suggest that trauma exposure is associated with neural and behavioral disruptions in memory suppression and point to the possibility that difficulty in active suppression of memories may be just one of several likely factors contributing to the development of PTSD.”

PTSD can be a result of a road accident, a violent personal assault, serious medical problems or other traumatic events.

People experiencing PTSD may have trouble sleeping and difficulty concentrating.

PTSD is thought to affect around one-third of people who experience a traumatic event.

PTSD is usually treated by either ‘watchful waiting’, antidepressants or psychological therapies.

The study was published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research (Sullivan et al., 2019).

A Game That Fades Away Traumatic Thoughts

The therapy was effective for 16 of the 20 patients in the study.

The therapy was effective for 16 of the 20 patients in the study.

Playing Tetris — a retro tile-matching puzzle game — can substantially reduce traumatic thoughts, research finds.

People in the study first wrote down their stressful memory on a piece of paper.

Then, they tore it up and played Tetris on a tablet for 25 minutes.

The results showed that flashbacks to the traumatic memory reduced by 64%.

It is thought that recalling the memory, then playing Tetris, is the key to how the therapy works.

The computer game interferes with the memory trace of the traumatic memory and weakens it — resulting in fewer flashbacks.

Dr Henrik Kessler, the study’s first author, said:

“PTSD can be treated well using the therapies available.

However, there are many more patients than therapy places.

That’s why the researchers are looking for methods outside conventional treatments that can relieve the symptoms.”

The study involved 20 patients experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — all had been hospitalised.

The researchers only targeted a specific memory.

The results showed that patients’ flashbacks for other traumatic memories were unaffected by playing Tetris.

This suggests the study technique was really working on the specific memory, rather than being a placebo effect.

The therapy was effective for 16 of the 20 patients in the study.

Dr Kessler hopes to confirm the technique’s effectiveness in larger, controlled studies:

“In our study, the intervention was supervised by a team member, but he did not play an active role and did not read the written traumatic memories.

Our hope is that we will be able to derive a treatment that people could perform on their own to help them cope, even if there are no places available for therapy.

However, the intervention cannot replace complex trauma therapy, but can only alleviate a central symptom, flashbacks.”

The study was published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (Kessler et al., 2018).

Why Traumatic Events Turn Into PTSD For Some People (M)

How is it that some people continue to suffer flashbacks and anxiety for a much longer period, while others recover quickly?

How is it that some people continue to suffer flashbacks and anxiety for a much longer period, while others recover quickly?

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The Drug That Relieves Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (S)

The drug was given to a group of firefighters, war veterans and police officers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The drug was given to a group of firefighters, war veterans and police officers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

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The Essential Oil That May Help Fight PTSD

Inhaling the essential oil could help reduce the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Inhaling the essential oil could help reduce the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Orange essential oil is a potential treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, new research suggests.

The oil — derived from the skin of an orange — could provide a better option than drugs, which generally have unwanted side effects.

Ms Cassandra Moshfegh, the study’s first author, said:

“Relative to pharmaceuticals, essential oils are much more economical and do not have adverse side effects.

The orange essential plant oil showed a significant effect on the behavioral response in our study mice.

This is promising, because it shows that passively inhaling this essential oil could potentially assuage PTSD symptoms in humans.”

People already use many different essential oils for therapeutic purposes.

Sometime they are diffused in to the air, sometimes applied to the skin and they can also be consumed in foods.


This study on mice tested the effects of the essential oil on their fear response.

The results showed that the mice exposed to orange essential oil were psychologically protected against a traumatic experience.

Genetic analysis also suggested a potential mechanism for this effect.

The study was published in The FASEB Journal (Moshfegh et al., 2016).

Study Links This Sleep Problem To Suicidal Thoughts

People with this sleep problem experienced defeat, entrapment, and hopelessness.

People with this sleep problem experienced defeat, entrapment, and hopelessness.

Nightmares are linked to suicidal behaviour in people suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), new research finds.

Around 80% of people who suffer from PTSD experience nightmares.

The study found that in those who were experiencing nightmares, 62% had suicidal thoughts, plans or attempts.

Of those not experiencing nightmares only 20% had suicidal ideation.

The researchers found that nightmares tended to encourage specific types of negative thoughts including:

  • defeat,
  • entrapment,
  • and hopelessness.

All of these fed into suicidal thoughts and behaviour.

Dr Donna L. Littlewood, the study’s first author, said:

“PTSD increases the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior, and our study shows that nightmares, a hallmark symptom of PTSD, may be an important treatment target to reduce suicide risk.

This study emphasizes the importance of specifically assessing and targeting nightmares within those individuals experiencing PTSD.

In addition, monitoring and targeting levels of negative cognitive appraisals such as defeat, entrapment, and hopelessness, may reduce suicidal thoughts and behaviors.”

The study involved 91 people suffering from PTSD.

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (Littlewood et al., 2016).

Nightmare image from Shutterstock

The Traumatic Effects of Violent News On Mental Health

The potential effect of the news on levels of stress and anxiety.

The potential effect of the news on levels of stress and anxiety.

Viewing violent news events on social media can cause symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A new study has found that almost one-quarter of individuals had PTSD-like symptoms from following events like 9/11 and suicide bombings on social media.

The more people viewed the events, researchers found, the greater the subsequent trauma they experienced.

The conclusion comes from a study of 189 people which was presented at the Annual Conference of the British Psychology Society being held in Liverpool.

Dr Pam Ramsden, who presented the research, said:

“The negative effects of exposure to other people’s suffering have long been recognised in roles such as professional healthcare workers.

Various studies have documented the negative psychological reactions following indirect exposure to traumatised people called vicarious traumatisation.

Social media has enabled violent stories and graphic images to be watched by the public in unedited horrific detail.

Watching these events and feeling the anguish of those directly experiencing them may impact on our daily lives.

In this study we wanted to see if people would experience longer lasting effects such as stress and anxiety, and in some cases post-traumatic stress disorders from viewing these images.”

People had symptoms of PTSD despite no real-life exposure to trauma.

Dr Ramsden continued:

“It is quite worrying that nearly a quarter of those who viewed the images scored high on clinical measures of PTSD.

There was also an increased risk for those with outgoing, extroverted personalities.

With increased access to social media and the internet via tablets and smartphones, we need to ensure that people are aware of the risks of viewing these images and that appropriate support is available for those who need it.”

Violent TV image from Shutterstock

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