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New research suggests physical cause to PTSD

Although not conclusive, recent research suggests that some post traumatic stress disorder and, potentially, other mental illnesses may be linked to a minute brain injury that may, initially, be undetectable.

Scientists have studied a handful of soldiers. The results of the study suggested that PTSD tended to develop in those soldiers that had been near explosions while in combat. The theory is that these explosions may damage a person's pituitary gland, an organ responsible for hormone regulation.

Although nestled in the human brain such that an even an MRI cannot provide a clear view of it, when the pituitary gland does malfunction because of an injury or other reason, the resulting hormone irregularities can cause a person to experience the symptoms of PTSD, a condition commonly thought of as a purely mental illness that may or may not have a mechanical cause.

While the researchers who conducted this study admit that they would need to reproduce their results among a broader group, the result they reached has been confirmed by other studies. In fact, research points to the possibility that other people, including New Jersey residents who have never served, may be walking around with mental conditions that in fact are related to a damaged pituitary gland.

Ongoing research is necessary, but the results could prove to be a welcome benefit to those disabled New Jersey residents who are trying to get Social Security disability benefits in order to cover some of their medical expenses and other needs. For example, although damage to a pituitary gland is difficult to spot without major brain surgery, the research at least raises the possibility that at some point in the future, the Social Security Administration will be able better to understand that some mental conditions relate back to detectable physical injuries to the brain.

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