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Traumatic Stress and Health

Traumatic experiences often come with biological consequences in the human organism. Patients suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for example have a higher riks for many diseases, in particular cardiovascular disease. In our research focus "Traumatic Stress and Health", we aim to understand the biological pathways between trauma and psychological response to trauma and pathophysiological changes in the organism's periphery that might explain higher rates of morbidity and mortality in PTSD.

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Posttraumatic stress disorder is associated with an altered psychological and physiological stress reaction. These biological changes are in relationship with psychological symptoms in PTSD and related with changes of the Central Nervous System (CNS) in PTSD. However, while psychiatric / psychological symptoms of PTSD can be treated somewhat successfully, it is currently not well understood how well successful treatment of psychiatric symptoms can also lead to the normalization of the acute stress reaction in PTSD. Thus, the aim of our work is to investigate the acute physiological stress reaction of PTSD patients towards a stressor and compare it with a parallelized healthy control group in Body-Mass-Index, age, sex and smoking behavior. Both groups are requested to take part in a satandardized stress-test and before and afterwards to donate multiple samplers of blood and saliva and fill out some questionnaires about their symptoms. They are agian asked to fill out the same questionnäires and donate one samle of plasma and serum blood seven weeks later. With this study we hope to be able to drive new conclusions about specifics of the stress reaction of PTSD patients. We furthermore hope to find reliable parameters for the prediction of therapy succes of PTSD while a standardized eight-week long hospitalization in a day care hospital.

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