A Shot of Cortisone Stops Traumatic Stress -- MEDICA - World Forum for Medicine

A Shot of Cortisone Stops Traumatic Stress

New hope for preventing the development of PTSD has been uncovered by Professor Joseph Zohar of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine in collaboration with Ben-Gurion University — and the key is a single dose of a common medication.

When a person suffers trauma, the body naturally increases its secretion of cortisone. Taking this natural phenomenon into account, Zohar set out to discover what a single extra dose of cortisone could do, when administered up to six hours after test subjects experienced a traumatizing event. The results indicate that the likelihood that the patient will later develop PTSD is reduced by 60 per cent.

In most psychiatric conditions, it is impossible to establish a precise point of time at which the disorder manifested, Zohar says. But PTSD is unique in that is has an easily established timeline, beginning from the moment a patient experiences trauma. This makes PTSD eligible for treatment in the "golden hours" — a medical term that defines the precious few hours in which treatment can be most beneficial following a trauma, heart attack, stroke, or medical event. Receiving treatment in this window of opportunity can be critical.

In their animal models, Zohar and his fellow researchers first began treating PTSD in the window of opportunity up to six hours after a traumatic event. Two groups of rats were exposed to the smell of a cat, and one group was treated with cortisone after the event.

Following promising results with the rats, the researchers initiated a double-blind study in an emergency room, in which trauma victims entering the hospital were randomly assigned to receive a placebo or the cortisone treatment. Follow-up exams took place two weeks, one month, and three months after the event. Those patients who had received a shot of cortisone were more than 60 per cent less likely to develop PTSD, they discovered.

When searching for a treatment method for PTSD, Zohar took his cue from Mother Nature. Most people who survive a traumatic experience do not develop PTSD because the cortisone that our body naturally produces protects us from developing the condition. But the right dose of cortisone at the right time could prove a source of secondary prevention for PTSD, he posited, helping along a natural process.

MEDICA.de; Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University