PTSD and The Biopsychosocial Framework

Head With Gears

I work in a research lab that is investigating MDMA as a treatment for PTSD, so choosing to examine the biopsychosocial framework of PTSD is a natural choice for me. In the lab, the main work we do is in investigating the neurobiological causes of PTSD- the role of the serotonin receptors, the oxytocin neurons, and the amygdala- and the difference MDMA makes in each of those categories. But when doing this research, it is important not to lose sight of the environmental and psychological framework as well, as those can make a big difference in the severity and occurrence of PTSD. PTSD is directly linked to the social framework because it is caused by environmental and social factors- a traumatic experience that permanently disrupts the proper functioning of the brain. This traumatic experience can be from war, from a sexual assault, from a horrific childhood experience, anything that is capable of leaving a permanent emotional scar. In some environments and social contexts, these traumatic experiences are more likely to occur. However, on a psychological level, some people are better equipped to handle this emotional stress. They also have different experiences of their memory and exhibit different psychological symptoms.

When doing research within a field, it is easy to forget the big picture. When doing neuroscience research, it can be hard to move away from the biochemical mechanism. When doing a psychological assessment, it can be hard to look deeper into the underlying social causes and predispositions to the disorder. And sociologists who look at disorders on a large scale can easily blend together the individual cases and the individual neurons that make up those cases. Looking at the biopsychosocial framework holistically is a much better approach.

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