Uncovering the heterogeneity of posttraumatic stress disorder: Towards a personalized medicine approach for military members and Veterans Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Introduction: Recently, there has been substantial interest in exploring the heterogeneity of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on a neurobiological level, as individuals with PTSD, including military members and Veterans, vary in their presentation of symptoms. Methods: Critically, a dissociative subtype of PTSD (PTSD+DS) has been defined, where a large body of evidence suggests that the unique presentation of symptoms among PTSD+DS patients is associated with aberrant neurobiological underpinnings. Results: PTSD+DS is often characterized by emotion overmodulation, with increased top-down activation from emotion regulation areas, which is associated with emotional detachment, depersonalization, and derealization. This is in stark contrast to the symptoms commonly observed in individuals with PTSD, who exhibit emotion undermodulation, which involves decreased top-down regulation of hyperactive emotion generation areas and is associated with vivid re-experiencing of trauma memories and hyperarousal. Discussion: This article examines a clinical case example that clearly illustrates this heterogeneous presentation of PTSD symptomatology and psychopathology. It discusses the implications this evidence base holds for a neurobiologically-informed, personalized medicine approach to treatment for military members and Veterans.

publication date

  • March 1, 2020