Childhood trauma is known to increase the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adulthood, especially for women, but the biological reasons for this correlation remain largely unknown.
In a study from the University of Missouri, Columbia, researchers have proposed a solution to this mystery in the form of a model that could help psychiatrists better understand the far-reaching impacts of early trauma on women, while also clarifying why not all women with traumatic childhoods develop PTSD.
"Our model indicates some women are biologically more resilient than others to PTSD," says Yang U, a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Nursing. "Normally, the body's stress response system is regulated by two hormones: Cortisol, which floods the body in response to a stressful event. and oxytocin, which brings Cortisol levels back down once the stressor has passed.
That system can break down in response to trauma, leaving Cortisol levels unchecked and keeping the body in a stressed and vulnerable state but. when those hormones continue to regulate each...