Article: Riding the Waves of Calm: The GABAergic System in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Publié le 05/03/2024

By Marc Dellière

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that occurs after experiencing a traumatic event, such as an accident, assault, or war experience. 

Symptoms can include nightmares, flashbacks, heightened vigilance, and intense emotional distress.

In the brain, the GABAergic system plays a fundamental role. 

This system utilizes a chemical substance called the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) to regulate our emotions and responses to stress. GABA acts by binding to special receptors on neurons, which reduces neuronal activity and helps us feel calm and relaxed.

Following a traumatic event, the normal functioning of the GABAergic system may be disrupted. This leads to changes in how our brain processes fear, traumatic memories, and emotions. 

GABAergic cells become less active, particularly in key brain regions such as the amygdala, which is involved in emotion processing. 

This disruption of the GABAergic system may contribute to PTSD symptoms, such as intense emotional reactions and heightened sensitivity to stressful situations.

To treat these symptoms, some medications work by increasing GABA activity in the brain. For example, benzodiazepines act by binding to GABAA receptors, which reduces anxiety.

Understanding the role of the GABAergic system in PTSD is essential for developing new treatments. 

By specifically targeting this system with medications or other therapies, we could improve PTSD symptoms and the quality of life for those affected.

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