Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects millions of people around the world

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops as a response to emotionally traumatic events. It is seen in victims of physical or sexual assault, warfighters, police officers and others who have had life-threatening experiences.

The psychological response to traumatic events can shift brain function and cause parts of the brain to operate on overdrive. With SPECT imaging, we often see a “diamond pattern” of overactivity, meaning that the person suffering with PTSD has:

  • Increased activity in the anterior cingulate gyrus (hyper-focus)
  • Increased activity in the basal ganglia (anxiety)
  • Increased activity in the deep limbic area (emotional control)
  • We also see abnormalities in the right lateral (side) temporal lobe

Case Study: PTSD

Sarah is a 32-year-old married woman with a history of moodiness, panic attacks and anxiety. While reviewing her clinical history, she revealed that she had been sexually abused throughout her childhood by her step-father. She tried to commit suicide three times in her life. Her scans revealed very high activity in the anterior cingulate gyrus, basal ganglia and thalamus—a common SPECT pattern in those suffering with PTSD.

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