What is the neurobiology of post-traumatic stress disorder?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
The neurobiological causes of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) involve a number of the body’s physiological systems. The amygdala -- the almond-shaped neural structure tied to memory and fear-conditioning -- plays a critical role in PTSD, along with other parts of the limbic system, the brain’s control panel for emotion, motivation, and behavior. Exposure to a stressful event signals the amygdala to switch on the body’s fear circuit, which sends response messages to different parts of the body, including the pituitary gland and the adrenal glands. This releases the hormone cortisol.
The hippocampus, also part of the limbic system, is responsible for shutting down this pathway once the threat has diminished. In PTSD, this intricate system short-circuits and can no longer regulate itself.

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