Archive for July, 2019

How a brain receptor could lead to suicide prevention

Texas suicide lawyerPeople suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are at a heightened risk of suicide.

According to an article by Live Science, researchers have found a link between suicidal thoughts and certain receptors on the surface of the brain cells of someone suffering from PTSD, in contrast with people without PTSD.

People with PTSD often suffer from severe anxiety, flashbacks, and uncontrollable thoughts surrounding a traumatic event. It’s primarily caused by any event that causes severe fear and stress and is most common in military combat veterans. The most common symptoms of PTSD, according to Live Science, include:

  • Re-experiencing: This includes flashbacks, reliving certain events, nightmares, frightening thoughts, sweating and increased heart rate. Re-experiencing can be triggered at any time when a person with PTSD sees or hears something that brings back memories of an event.
  • Avoidance: People with PTSD will often avoid bringing up certain things that remind them of a certain event. They may also avoid certain places, events, or situations that may put them at risk of experiencing flashbacks and uncontrollable thoughts and actions.
  • Hyperarousal: People with PTSD may be easily startled, experience chronic stress, and the feeling of being “on edge.” Unlike re-experiencing, this symptom isn’t triggered, but rather constant.

Study findings

The study was recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a peer-reviewed multidisciplinary scientific journal. It found that the brain receptor called metabotropic glutamatergic (mGluR5) found in people with PTSD may be further examined for the development of future PTSD drug treatment. Metabotropic glutamatergic plays a functional role in several brain processes, including learning and memory, sleep, and cognitive functioning.

There are currently only two drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) used for treating patients with PTSD. These drugs were initially designed to treat depression and aren’t effective for everyone with PTSD, however. Moreover, patients with PTSD often don’t benefit from the drug for weeks or months.

In the study, researchers scanned the brains of 29 PTSD patients, 29 people who suffered from depression (but didn’t have PTSD), and 29 people who had no diagnosed psychiatric disorder. Participants were asked if they had experienced any suicidal thoughts on the day of the scan. Those who had active suicidal thoughts with actual intent were excluded from the study and given immediate medical help. Those who had more passive suicidal thoughts without any intent were included in the study.

In comparison with healthy individuals without psychiatric disorder, participants with PTSD had higher levels of mGluR5 on the surface of the brain cells in five regions of the brain. Moreover, researchers found a link between the presence of mGluR5 only in people with PTSD, but not in people with depression.

Researchers are hopeful that the information found in this study will lead to effective suicide prevention for people with PTSD. Currently, drugs that directly target mGluR5 exist, but they have yet to be tested for PTSD treatment. Prior studies suggest that such drugs could cause an increase in anxiety among people with PTSD.

These study findings are a positive step for suicide prevention. The Law Offices of Skip Simpson will continue to keep an eye on these developments. We represent the families of those who have died by suicide across the United States. If you lost a loved one to death by suicide, contact us only to discuss your matter and explore your legal options.