Psychological trauma can have lasting effects on the brain. These effects underlie symptoms of posttrau-matic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as depression, substance abuse, dissociative disorders, and borderline personality disorder (BPD). Brain areas affected by trauma that also mediate the stress response include the amygdala, hippocampus, and medial prefrontal cortex (including the anterior cingulate).

Trauma spectrum psychiatric disorders represent the behavioral manifestation of stress-induced changes in brain structure and function. Stress results in acute and chronic changes in neurochemical systems and specific brain regions, which result in long-term changes in brain “circuits” involved in the stress response.

Hormones (including norepinephrine and cortisol) play a critical role in the stress response. However, chronic stress can lead to dysfunction of these systems. Norepinephrine (adrenaline) is released in both the ...

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