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New trial explores prospects of oxytocin as treatment for PTSD and alcohol abuse

New trial explores prospects of oxytocin as treatment for PTSD and alcohol abuse

02 August | 0 Comments | By Rachael

Any kind of traumatic experience can affect the normal course of life and can prevent one from leading a happy and productive life. The situation can give rise to various other complications and problems, with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) being one of them.

An individual with PTSD can experience symptoms like nightmares, constant fear of being in danger, overreacting to situations, dizziness and erratic and inappropriate behavior. Up to one in three U.S. combat veterans and active military personnel suffers from PTSD. A new trial regarding medication for PTSD offers a ray of hope for those battling the untimely symptoms of the disorder. Jennifer Mitchell, Ph.D., an associate professor of neurology in the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine will be testing the prospects of oxytocin, a hormone released during sex, childbirth and lactation as a treatment option for PTSD and related substance abuse problem among active military personnel.

Individuals with PTSD often take to substance abuse also

According to the National Center for PTSD, the disorder affects 7 to 8 percent of the American population at some point of their lives. The symptoms and reactions of the problem often force the patients to turn to alcohol for a temporary fix. However, continuous consumption can lead to dependency and addiction, resulting in co-occurring disorders that require a more integrated treatment approach.

PTSD is common among combat veterans and active military personnel due to the frequency of facing life-threatening experiences in their line of work. Till September 2014, there were about 2.7 million American veterans of the Iran and Afghanistan Wars, of which 20 percent had PTSD.

Military personnel suffering from PTSD are often taken off the service. However, there has been a shift and the military is becoming more and more cooperative in finding ways to treat their problem so that they can remain in service. “Now they’re coming to accept that this is happening to many career personnel, and the military wants to keep these active duty people going. It’s an entirely new development philosophically,” said Mitchell.

The cooperation extended by the military in finding treatment for the problem is helping researchers like Mitchell to go ahead with their trials. Mitchell’s trial is based on the fact that oxytocin is present in both genders and it plays a role in social behavior and in managing stress and anxiety. Mitchell has also published her findings proving that apart from managing stress and anxiety, oxytocin can also help reduce alcohol cravings.

However, there were concerns about whether the hormone can affect the performance of the military personnel, a concern based on the lesser known effects of oxytocin. According to Mitchell, the hormone promotes trust and since veterans and active personnel sufferings from PTSD have smaller “trust circles” which also impact their stress levels, the hormone will help such personnel to broaden their circles. This would further help them control their symptoms and alcohol consumption.

Timely treatment can help in long-term recovery

Anyone who has gone through a traumatic experience runs the risk of suffering from PTSD. If not treated on time the problem may cause mental and physical harm to the sufferers and to those around them. However, such mental disorders are treatable and early treatment should be sought in order to prevent further harm and the possibility of substance abuse.

The Arizona Mental Health Helpline can provide the required information about health care providers who can administer personalized treatment programs according to your needs. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-606-7791 in order to be connected to one of the best mental health treatment centers in Arizona or chat with our trained medical representatives to know more about mental health disorder treatment centers in Arizona.