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Biology and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

From a biological perspective, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is seen to reflect an abnormal biological response to stress. Once established, PTSD can continue to influence biology. The classic repetitive, frightening memories of the traumatic event, for example, can feel like reexposure to the trauma, and lead to a similar cascade of biological responses that occurred at the time the event unfolded. The physiological responding, which is normal in situations of danger, becomes generalized to harmless situations in individuals with PTSD. Their bodies become hyperalert and overrespond in situations that previously they would have perceived as safe. This biological dysregulation is often linked to neuroendocrine alterations, which suggest oversensitivity to the stress hormone cortisol. Some research also suggests changes in brain morphology in areas linked ...

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