In the thirty years or so since it was first recognized, there have been significant advances in understanding the phenomenology and biology of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Initially, PTSD was seen as primarily a psychological condition brought about by a traumatic event outside the normal range of human experience, and the one question researchers did not feel they needed to attend to was what caused it. But it is now clear that trauma exposure alone is not a sufficient causal agent, and while stress neurobiology can explain the emergence of some symptoms, it cannot explain either their persistence or the failure of biological systems to recalibrate towards homoeostasis. The next generation of biological studies must evaluate a broader range of biological mechanisms, including molecular biology.
This book is a collection of eight conceptually related papers on the emerging molecular biology of PTSD. Subjects covered include the importance of genotype to PTSD, epigenetic mechanisms, aspects of molecular biology in PTSD populations and gender differences in animal models of PTSD.
Ideally, the methodology for identifying a molecular biology of PTSD will involve the development and testing of models which integrate genetic, epigenetic, neuroendocrine and risk resilience factors together with environmental factors. This may seem to be an overwhelming and prohibitively expensive goal, but the papers in this book take a step towards realizing this ultimate vision.