Harvard Researchers Find Genetic Link to PTSD

Apr 26, 2017

Scientists want to know why some people exposed to trauma develop PTSD and some don't. A new Harvard University study suggests genetics play a role.

By collecting DNA from 20,000 people around the world, researchers found the same genes linked to mental illness like schizophrenia are also linked to PTSD -- with a stronger genetic role in women than men.

But since the genetic patterns are highly complex, study co-author Karestan Koenen said, "I don't see this translating into some kind of test where we could determine, when someone comes back from war, who's at risk of having PTSD and who's not, in order to identify people for treatments."

Koenen does think the new research could lead to better drugs to treat or prevent PTSD.

In future studies, she'd like to collect a much bigger genetic sample -- ideally, 100,000 people with PTSD and 100,000 without (the control group) -- to get more detailed findings.