A consortium of U.S. psychiatrists, neurobiologists, data scientists, and more will pool resources in an effort to find a better means of diagnosing and potentially treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition that can lead to debilitating anxiety or depression as well as cardiovascular disease.
Nearly eight million adults in the United States suffer from PTSD. War veterans are affected at a higher rate than the rest of the population, but civilians who are assaulted, survive a severe accident, or suddenly lose a loved one are also at risk. While there are treatments, clinicians have to use trial and error to determine whether medication, psychological therapy, or a combination will work best, and in some cases none of these strategies are effective.
The consortium plans to study both civilians and military personnel who have recently been in automobile accidents (some 9 percent of American accident survivors develop PTSD, according to the National Center for PTSD). The idea is to enroll people before symptoms begin to appear, so that researches can study how and in whom the disorder unfolds. The consortium will draw from genetic data, brain imaging, physiological measurements, and more to try to identify patterns that can be used to diagnose the disease and potentially improve treatment.