New Study By Shands May Help Treat Anxiety Disorders
Published February 9th, 2013
GAINESVILLE - When "American Sniper" Chris Kyle was killed this week by a former soldier suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. It was sad evidence that good intentions alone sometimes make no difference. Doctors here in north central florida may be a big step closer to training the brain to stop reacting fearfully, something that would be a major advance in treating anxiety disorders.
According to the website Heal My PTSD more than 31 million people in the United States are struggling with post traumatic stress disorder. David Cangemi is an air force veteran and his best friend, a war veteran, falls in those numbers.
David Cangemi, a Middleburg resident says "We need to do as much as we can because these folks go and die for us so it's the least we could do to help them come back and adjust to civilian life."
Cangemi is happy to hear a new study at shands hospital may improve the diagnoses and treatment of mental illnesses like PTSD. The study had 21 people watch flickering shapes appear on the screen while an EEG or electrode net, monitored their brain activity.
Dr. Andreas Keil, who's leading the research says their findings contradict the common belief that at the sight of something scary, people with anxiety disorders ignore safety cues.
"We've been interested in what happens, when people have different experiences when they have developed disorders about bad things happening to them. And we've also been interested in studying what happens if we learn good stuff about the world," Keil says.
Dr. Vladimir Miskovic who's also behind the reasearch, says the goal is to one day therapeutically teach people how to control their brain from over-reacting to fear. "We have the best of hope of leading to some sort of breakthrough down the road in terms of potential treatments. And just in terms of developing a better more successful theories that allow us to explain why certain individuals go on to develop anxiety disorders when they have certain traumatic experiences," Miskovic says.
In the future Keil and Miskovich hope to train participants to control their fear response in the same way people can consciously control their heart rates. In the meantime cangemi's best friend must cope with the fear as best as he can.
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