Thu Apr 2, 2009 8:06pm EDT
By Kylie MacLellan
LONDON (Reuters) – Scientists using imaging scans on soldiers have identified brain patterns that signal post-traumatic stress, a finding they said on Friday could eventually help diagnose the disorder sooner.
The scans of 42 U.S. soldiers who had served in Iraq or Afghanistan in the recent past showed that, compared with healthy veterans, those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) had marked differences in some areas of brain activity.
The study, presented at the World Psychiatric Association Congress in Italy, suggested identifying certain brain patterns could one day help diagnose PTSD before symptoms appeared and better track treatment, the researchers said.
“It could make a huge difference because at the moment physicians rely on the patient reporting certain symptoms,” Rajendra Morey of Duke University in North Carolina, who the led the study, said in a telephone interview.
“The field is still in its infancy, but this raises the possibility that one day we may be able to see the disorder in the body as plainly as we now can see conditions such as heart disease and cancer.”
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can be caused by wartime trauma such as being wounded or seeing others hurt or killed.