PTSD Has Strong Genetic Component Like Other Psychiatric Disorders

PTSD Has Strong Genetic Component Like Other Psychiatric Disorders

Genetic data from 200,000 people reveals the heritability of post-traumatic stress disorder is similar to that of depression and other forms of mental illness. Credit: Susanna M. Hamilton, Broad Communications. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the most common psychiatric disorders, affecting some 8 million adults at some point in their lifetime in the United States. Despite this, it is not clear why only some people who experience a traumatic event develop PTSD. Some researchers have suggested that the disorder is only a social construct, but previous studies have hinted that genetics plays a role. A new study identifies a clear biological basis for PTSD. In the largest and most diverse genetic study of PTSD to date, scientists from University of California San Diego School of Medicine and more than 130 additional institutions participating in the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium have found that PTSD has a strong genetic component similar to other psychiatric disorders. Genetics, they write in Nature Communications , accounts for between five and 20 percent of the variability in PTSD risk following a traumatic event. “Our long-term goal is to develop tools that might help clinicians predict who is at greatest risk for PTSD and personalize their treatment approaches,” said the study’s first and corresponding author Caroline Nievergelt, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine and associate director of neuroscience in the Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System. “We can’t always protect people from trauma. But we can treat them in the best ways possible, at the best time.” The study team also reports that, like other psychiatric disorders and many other human traits, PTSD is highly polygenic, meaning it is associated with thousands of genetic variants throughout the genome, each […]

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