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Findings reveal people with autism are predisposed to PTSD

PTSD and Autism

People with autism usually share some similarities to those with PTSD. For example, they both have impaired emotional regulation and difficulties with fear conditioning. Now, researchers have found a deeper but worrying relationship. Mild stress in autistic individuals is enough to trigger PTSD.

Although the study was done on mice, the dynamics and traits of these disorders are true for humans, too.

In both autistic and PTSD patients, there's dysfunction in the prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain is associated with memory formation and helping you adapt to frightful memories — more like shielding you from experiencing the same trauma repeatedly whenever you remember a traumatic event.

A dysfunctional cortex is not able to do so. In fact, in autistic people, the interneurons in the prefrontal cortex are over-active and can form strong PTSD-like memories from minor stressors.

Hence, a person with autism may develop PTSD from a stressful event that may not affect another healthy individual.

This is worth knowing as it will help mental health providers and psychiatrists address stress more critically when dealing with people with autism.

And since behavioral therapy is pretty effective in treating PTSD, it can also change how clinicians manage stress in people with autism.

"What is really promising is once the traumatic memories are successfully recontextualised using behavioural therapy, the ASD traits that were worsened following the stress, are dramatically improved," says Dr. Nathalie Dehorter.

More on the research here.

Need help?

Perhaps you or your loved one has autism, and what you've just read about the predisposition to PTSD sounds like your reality. Maybe you‘ve noticed your difficulty in dealing with stressful situations, no matter how mild they may seem to others. Now, you probably suffer from the debilitating symptoms of PTSD.

At Hope Mental Health, you can get the help you need.

We provide safe effective psychiatric care in Boise & Meridian, Idaho, SLC & the Wasatch Front, Utah. You can also reach us in AZ, OR, NV, WA & FL.

Contact us now to speak with one of our licensed providers.

Author
Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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