Study was based on genetic analysis of Spitak earthquake victims.
A UCLA study led by psychiatrist Armen K. Goenjian has found two specific genetic variations that contribute to post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly known as PTSD.
The study centered on the victims of the 1988 Spitak earthquake and zeroes in on molecular contributions to PTSD.
The study “finds that in Armenians who carried two specific genetic variations associated with depression, PTSD was more common,” according to a story published in the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday. The study was published Monday in the Journal of Affective Disprders.
Dr. Geonjian was dispatched to Spitak immediately after the earthquake and led the psychiatric outreach efforts for the Earthquake Relief Fund for Armenia (ERFA). He and his team based the study on a genetic analysis of 200 adults from 12 families in northern Armenia who agreed to allow their DNA to be sent to Los Angeles, where it was combed for clues to psychiatric vulnerability.
“Goenjian said that PTSD among Armenians ‘was an ongoing problem and much bigger than we first appreciated,’ given how widespread the destruction was, how the loss of loved ones was universal and how delays in rebuilding forced the population to confront constant reminders of their trauma,” reported the LA Times.
“Those common threads may help to explain why PTSD is so frequently diagnosed in those who have had, or who will go on to develop, depression. Serotonin is believed to play a key role in mood regulation, and many antidepressants are thought to work by boosting serotonin and its availability in the brain,” added the LA Times.