Resistance to PTSD: Could It Be in Your DNA?

Not everyone who experiences trauma develops PTSD. So what might be boosting the resilience of the folks who experience trauma and don’t suffer from PTSD? According to Israel Liberzon, MD, of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, genetic factors might play a role. When combined with trauma in early childhood, a tiny DNA change (or a mutation), called a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), in a gene called ADRB2 could help predict whether or not a person will be more resilient (or more susceptible) to PTSD later in life. Inside of our cells, ADRB2 plays a role in how adrenaline affects our…

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Epigenetics Might Help Us Predict How the Brain Responds to Threats

If you could predict how well your clients might be able to deal with stress, just based on a blood or saliva sample, would that change your treatment approach? There’s a specific gene that’s been getting a lot of attention lately because it affects how the brain processes serotonin – a chemical created inside the body believed to be responsible for maintaining mood balance. The serotonin transporter gene codes for a molecule that regulates the amount of serotonin signaling between brain cells, and it’s a key target for the treatment of mood disorders. It’s also well known for its involvement…

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A Reflection on This Season of Renewal

For weeks I’ve been staring out my window at bare forsythia branches, almost willing them to reveal the slightest whisper of yellow. Finally, the other day, I saw it—the hint of yellow I’d been squinting so hard to detect seems suddenly to have arrived in full flower. Snowdrops and purple and white crocus had already begun dotting neighbors’ lawns and, next, daffodils trumpeted the arrival of spring. I awoke to birdsong as robins, cardinals, and chickadees busied themselves in building nests to cradle new life. Then, of course, it snowed again. I know, some of you in sunnier parts of…

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The Polyvagal Theory: Looking at Trauma through a New Lens

Can trauma haunt the body the same way it haunts memories? According to Stephen Porges, PhD, not only does the body remember a traumatic experience, but it can actually get stuck in the trauma response mode. So even when life becomes safe, the body still perceives danger and its defenses stay engaged. Why does this happen and what can we do about it? Stephen shares a little background along with his own personal experience with this phenomenon – check it out, it’s just 4 minutes. Click here to sign up. You can learn more about polyvagal theory in our Rethinking…

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A Trauma Therapy Program for Children in Conflict Zones

If a single traumatic experience can change a person’s life for years to come, what must an average day be like for someone who faces traumatic events on a routine basis? For people affected by war or natural disaster, where entire populations from infants to the elderly have been exposed to so much suffering, what can we possibly put in place to help them cope? Researchers wanted to see whether the Teaching Recovery Techniques (TRT) program could be one effective resource for this population. TRT is a skills-based cognitive behavioral therapy program that has significantly reduced symptoms of PTSD in…

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Dreaming of a Greener Christmas

For a while now, I’ve been trying to do my part. I bring my canvas bags to the grocery store and the farmer’s market. I recycle my newspapers and plastics, and lately I’ve been buying a lot more in glass and going to the local food co-op to refill those containers. And while I’m not a purist, I’m a believer in taking as many “small steps” to help the environment as I can. And before Christmas, I made a promise to myself: to erase some of my “foot prints” when it came to the packaging and wrapping. There’s just too…

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