Sunday, January 24, 2010

Morphine to fight PTSD?

Giving someone morphine soon after they experience a traumatic event could help stave off the development of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a study headed up by the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

According to The Washington Post, "In a study of about 700 troops who were wounded in Iraq, those who received morphine soon after being injured were about half as likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder as those who did not get the drug." (Don't worry, they weren't experimenting on these people, just looking at their medical records.)

The researchers don't know why morphine helped those soldiers: "It is not known whether morphine's apparently protective effect arises directly from the relief of traumatic pain or indirectly by blocking the brain circuits that lay down traumatic memory."

Out of 696 people whose records were examined, 61% of people who received morphine developed PTSD, while 76% of those who did not receive morphine also developed PTSD, "which researchers said translated into a 53 percent reduction in risk," according to the Post.

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