This Common Drug Could Stop You from Developing PTSD

This Common Drug Could Stop You from Developing PTSD


[ ♪INTRO ] About 10% of people who go through a traumatic
experience end up developing post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. This condition is characterized by periods
of intense fear, intrusive memories, and feelings of helplessness. And while there are ways
to treat it, it would be awfully nice if we could just prevent these symptoms from developing
in the first place. I know, I know. Right now, you’re probably
saying to yourself, “Wishful thinking, Anthony! Let’s just get rid of all the trauma in
the world!” But hear me out. According to some research,
there might actually be a way to prevent PTSD from developing — without totally changing
society. It’s not quite ready yet, but there’s
some promising evidence in its corner. And maybe the best part? This treatment is one
of the most common drugs in the world. It’s called hydrocortisone. It’s a medicinal version of the human stress
hormone cortisol, and it’s been used for decades in everything from allergy creams
to arthritis medications. But even though it’s been used for years,
we didn’t know it might be helpful for PTSD until the late ‘90s. Around then, a researcher noticed that hospital
patients who had received hydrocortisone for septic shock also seemed to have better mental health outcomes. And eventually, a follow-up study backed this up. It looked at people who had potentially-traumatic
major surgery. And it found that those who’d received hydrocortisone had fewer PTSD symptoms
and a higher quality of life six months later. Since then, many studies have investigated
this with similar results. But, unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that
psychiatrists can just start giving out hydrocortisone shots to all their patients. Based on the research, these injections are
only particularly effective during a tiny window: They work best within about 12 hours
after someone experiences a trauma. Still, if you can hit that window, you can
potentially reduce or prevent future PTSD symptoms. The reason why this window exists — and
why hydrocortisone seems to help at all — might have to do with how our brains make fear-related memories. When we experience something scary or traumatic, certain parts of our brain — including the amygdala and hippocampus — get to work. They start making new connections and short-term
memories about what scared us and what we were doing at that time. Then, later, the brain solidifies these short-term
memories into long-term memory. This process is known as fear conditioning. Of course, when something scary happens, our
bodies aren’t just making memories. They’re also going through a physical response, which
includes producing stress hormones like cortisol. Cortisol helps suppress non-essential functions,
like digestion, during life-or-death scenarios. But it also has another job — one that might
be a little counter-intuitive, given its role as a stress hormone It’s a key part of a negative feedback loop
our bodies use to turn the stress response off. Among other things, it helps the brain
chill out and stop creating or storing those new fear memories. And that’s where PTSD comes in. This condition is often understood as a kind
of runaway fear conditioning. The idea is that the brain associates certain cues with fear too strongly and initiates an extreme response. And according to some studies, that might be because a person had low cortisol levels when they experienced a trauma. Without enough of this hormone, their brains
might have had trouble turning off their fear circuitry. They’d just keep building and
storing those fear memories, until their brains initiate an extreme response whenever they recall what happened. Now, there have been some inconsistencies
in this research, and not every paper supports this hypothesis. But this connection has popped up enough that
scientists are seriously investigating it. After all, it would explain why a timely injection
of hydrocortisone would prevent PTSD symptoms from developing. We’ll need to learn more before we can say anything for certain, because exactly how stress hormones affect memory can be complicated. But the more scientists have looked into it, the more there really does seem to be something there. That said, hydrocortisone isn’t ready to
be commonly used for PTSD just yet. We still need high-quality trials to replicate
previous findings, investigate inconsistencies, and nail down things like dosage, timing,
and administration. And even once we do that, there are some logistics to figure out, too. To work, hydrocortisone would need to be given to people really quickly after they experienced trauma. So it would need to be ready and available in places like emergency rooms or ambulances. That would require some extra logistics, like
specialized training to identify and follow-up with people at risk of developing PTSD. After all, you wouldn’t want to just give
this stuff to everyone who walked in the door. Cortisol is still a stress hormone so it has
a lot of effects in the human body. High levels have been linked with sleep and digestive
problems, and anxiety, for instance. But, even though there’s still a fair amount
to learn and unpack, the idea of being able to prevent PTSD at all is really exciting.
And it gives us something to hope for. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow
Psych! If you want to help us make more content like this, there’s an awesome team of people
that makes SciShow possible: our patrons on Patreon. Without them, we couldn’t make so much free
educational content. So if you’re a patron, thank you! You really
do make all of this happen. If you want to learn more about supporting
the show and joining our patron community, you can go to patreon.com/scishow. [ ♪OUTRO ]

97 comments

  1. Who ever is reading this , just remember that you are good at what you love and you will make your dreams come true

    My dream is to spread knowledge about futuristic things by my videos

  2. Also shrooms. I'm not even joking. There's been a fair amount of data showing that those suffering from PTSD benefit greatly from having a dose of Psilocybin mushroom.

  3. As a brief qualification re: stats, 10% sounds about accurate-ish, but it bears being said that this figure includes people who've experienced multiple traumatic events in their lives. If memory serves, the odds of any particular traumatic event giving someone PTSD is closer to 4-5%. Which, again, needs to be qualified. Those events that stem from human malevolence are grossly more likely to result in PTSD than accidents or natural disasters. All of that said, there is, to the best of my knowledge, no kind of trauma that is more likely than not to give someone PTSD.

  4. Now has this study been specifically for civilian PTSD, or does this also include military related PTSD? Because as a veteran, the numbers of PTSD is higher, and I am interested if there is a correlation between veterans with a higher hydrocortisone level during a stressful incident, or immediately after, developing less or even zero symptoms compared to those with minimal hydrocortisone levels, and if these veterans sustained physical injuries which lead to them receiving shots of hydrocortisone within that window.

  5. And for the people that unfortunately do have PTSD. Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is doing MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy Clinical Trials (phase 3 !). It's still possible to participate in this trial. See the MAPS (dot org) or mdmaptsd (dot org) websites

  6. For minor stress, I find listening to Anthony to be helpful. He has a soothing voice. The big stuff usually (for me) hasn't been anything I could prepare for. After major surgery. the shock came when the bills arrived.

  7. The editing on this video needs improvement. There’s not enough silence before each clip, so sentences end up being run-on. It’s like if you were cutting and pasting whole sentences of text, and never pasted in the spaces between sentences (and before software was smart enough to do it automatically).

  8. As much I know that life, will make some suffer, beyond any word or description be justified in giving the experiencing of this, completely nothing but impossible to ever take anything beyond and heal from, as much time only goes on too, not to heal some things, no medicine could ever do – It is experiencing an evil like nothing hell could brave, and no amount of clinical understanding could have made the literature meaningless as to then know experiencing this, is nothing but the fact it isn’t inhumane in its torture, nor lack of knowing that you are not ever to be changed. It would still leave me alone without words be lost as well the narrative of time make any more sense, as this one tragedy. I just survived and without knowing how or did I ever once believe I could have a future of one more minute let alone be able to get to now – As a past and present time now finally separate, and that killed me I’m sure, however I cannot be able to know that I have appreciated the smallest of things, the absolute mundane as possible days in boring life, like then to be in awe at such simplest of things, and grateful somehow that I am able to know I deserve a future worth making up many years for, I know finally peace; and how much I feel brief in awe or calm, as to how much it cost in the opposite – If you ever think you can no longer get through, please know from myself, as much my heart is my word in belief that you can, you will and you have nothing but a life after this moment of things you can not yet believe, see or anything be able to think, but trust that you have something inside that will grip and claw you out, and keep you crawling when you have nothing left – You can do this, and to get to the next minute; you can do anything that you face. I believe in that – always keep fighting through, you will win ☮️💙💕

  9. Cortizol has lots of side effects, including but not limited to immune suppression, hypertension, stomach ulcers, acneea and so on. A shot of cortisol might not even trigger any of these, but on the other hand, suppressing the immune system of someone who's been badly injured is dangerous

  10. I wonder how much of the success has to do with the strong anti inflammation effect of hydrocortisone? From my anecdotal experience of having chronic pain inflammation definitely can definitely affect my mood beyond being grumpy about feeling achey. Traumatic experiences and the immune system seem highly connected for example a lot of people diagnosed with fibromyalgia have had trauma in the so it’s possible to have trauma so deep that it can rewrite your immune and nervous system.

    Of course correlation isn’t causation but it’s definitely worth investigating the anti inflammatory effect!

  11. excellent for soldiers, kill all the babies, no mindf**k effects… what? WHAT?!.. ohhh you think this will be first used to help you? instead of first making money?? ahaha hahahah HAAHAHAH, good one

  12. Not Victim blaming can cause a lot physcological damage . What's point of blame logically what happened and what to do about it. Or emotionally. Who should be punished. And doesn't work there many factors that go into event . Escuses. Well logically I escuses are reasons. Try Blaming everyone's including yourself. And make escuses. Reasons your brain already looking at what and what to do about it contrary to what may have Heard. Reliving going through bad Memories helps you get over them. Bettrr fighting your looking at the situation. And. Not Victim blaming can also lead to more anxioty. .

    Your self I factor you have the Most control over.

    Yes the past can hurt but can either run from it punish you self for it or learn from it.

  13. Thumbnail: "PTSD Cure"
    Title: "…Drug could stop you from developing PTSD"
    So is it a cure or a prevention?! I'm in a public place with no headphones so I can't watch yet but it sure sounds like a problem. I wouldn't expect you guys to mix those up.

  14. A major problem with applying this approach is
    A, the recognition of a causative event and
    B, having a medic on the battlefield nearby – with a sufficient supply, enough for any and all troops within the scenario…

  15. So, to clarify, you're talking about single event Big T traumas, particularly medical trauma, not repeated or chronic trauma such as war or abuse.

  16. As someone in higher education I love your vids, even used them in classes before, but it would be great if you referenced specific articles and maybe mentioned sample sizes or experimental designs more, I believe this research but it's really hard to accept the claims you guys make without sourcing your information, you source your images but they mean nothing if your sources are not from peer review or have strong research methods

    (i don't expect ya'll to source everything but one or two studies to back up your claims would be highly beneficial and could help with your credibility within classrooms and such)

  17. Hey, Anthony. Welcome to SciShow. I have been a subscriber for several years now and I am excited to see a new face. You're doing a good job. Wish ya well!

  18. Um, isn't getting rid of PTSD a bit like getting rid of your pain receptors? Great in the short term but devastating in the long run? Our minds make us suffer for a reason, turn off traumatic memories and you lose everything you could have learned about yourself and the world from examining and overcoming them.

  19. This kind of terrifies me. I'm optimistic about the obvious benefits… But I never like the idea of anything that might reduce the terror of the battlefield. Drugging people to make them more effective soldiers never ends well

  20. Well now I'm gonna have a nagging urge to slather myself in anti-itch cream every time I watch my Father in law try to carve a turkey. THERE'S a horror show right there.

  21. So would there be a connection between this and why chronic abuse can lead to PTSD? For instance, cortisol depletion when you're under dangerous conditions for too long leads to lower levels of cortisol during many of those situations, leading to stronger fear memories?

  22. I'm somewhat skeptical of this. Correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation. It's possible that other factors are in common with both having an injection of hydrocortisone and not developing PTSD. Examples include:
    – being under the care of health professionals in a place of safety reduced distress vs having to face the trauma alone or in a less comprehensive service.

    – The use of hydrocortisone could be associated with certain types of incident less likely to result in PTSD.

    – It could be staying in hospital disrupts normal sleep cycle, reducing the consolidation and meaning making of the trauma incident.

    – Could be the psychologically therapeutic skills of the health professionals helped the individual feel safer, more in control or normalised in their reaction.

    – Could be the act of having an injection puncturing the skin after a trauma helps reduce the associations of damage or penetration into the body as always bad, or allowing oneself to trust another person to put something in their body, allows them to refine their trauma experiences towards thinking with a more graded or balanced adaptive perception.

    – could be that people receiving hydrocortisone injections can affort private medical insurance, which may make them feel more financially stable and their personal safety and identity protected.

    The list goes on and on…

  23. I mean, preventing it with medication IS a good thing… But society should still change for the better. Hydrocortisone shouldn't be an excuse to maintain the status quo. Many social taboos are killing people. That's not okay.

  24. It's funny – I already knew about this connection. I wonder why that is? Oh, I know. It's because as soon as you try to put across arguments that support the rights of trans people, you have to have acquired the some total of all human knowledge to convince anyone.

  25. OK, so this relationship between trauma and hydrocortisone treatment was discovered back in the mid-1990s… it's one of the cheapest drugs on the market… it's sold over-the-counter for allergic reactions… 

    And it's STILL not available as a first-line treatment for PTSD?

    WTF?

  26. Just want to point out that PTSD isn't just experienced by those in the military. It's experienced by civilians too, and not just from violent attacks. It can be from severe illness, mental and emotional abuse, or even just stressful situations. It can be from a traumatic childhood. It's usually called Complex PTSD or CPTSD in this case. I just want to throw that out there, there's a lot of ignorance regarding it.

  27. Trust me, if I've gone through a traumatic experience, it's going to take me at least 24 hours before I begin thinking clearly again.

  28. Honestly, the one area I see this being used a lot is mass shootings. Large group with non-medical trauma, so it wont interfere with other drugs. It is easily avaiable and can be administered relatively safely within a 12 hour period.

  29. All of the coments:
    1. "Rude, I already have PTSD this is useless now."
    2. "HI NEW GUY!"
    3. "Military test subjects."

    I'm judging all of you.
    There are supposedly five different sub categories of PTSD. I am of the untrained opinion to believe that some of these types are easier to be worked through than others. There is a specific amount of reguarity that you need to have to be diagnosed with anything. Some other things that help with not developing PTSD are general good health things like getting enough rest and not smoking. Some studies also will say weed helps. Which makes sense if it is putting you to sleep. The brain best heals when in a state of sleep.
    It looks like PTSD might be more prevalent today than before or atleast most talked about. Could being offspring of individuals who were suffering during conception make the child more susceptible? Could it be with improvement in birth control meds the sub- consequential increased cortisol suppression? Something more?

  30. This is a really interesting idea. I wonder if it will be advanced as the field of phenomics evolves in coming years. I could see administration and dosage being tied to a person's individual metabolic requirements (as understood by looking at a patient's phenomic data).

  31. How about we create a society that is not fucked ? and not full of inequality corruption and evil so people stop getting constantly traumatized at this frequency rather than keep thinking up more and more elaborate ways to hack peoples brains so they dont feel anything

  32. As someone who suffers from PTSD, this is amazing!!! It wouldn’t have worked for me as it was a prolonged trauma (abuse), but for those who suffered a big single time trauma like a car accident or shooter, this could be a game changer!! I hope that this works out!!

  33. I know this is a wild and totally not how medicine works but here out my hypothesis. For hay fever allergies I get some cortisol shot every few months. For the next couple of hours it’s like my spacy adhd is gone. I’m switched on an ready to attack any task. Like I’d rather work than sleep. This is extremely out of character for me. But after listening to CBT podcast I’m starting to think that maybe my compulsive need to procrastinate (even things that are very important to me and aren’t particularly unpleasant tasks) is actually based on an irrational fear. You know how seeing a photo of a snake can make a snake-o-phobic start panicking. The idea of sitting down and grafting makes me anxiously want to run away and it takes quite a force of will to sit my ass down and get working…

    They say the hardest part is getting started but it might just be easier if I could find a way to increase that stress hormone haha

  34. Why does it just make so much sense? I feel like an idiot for never even thinking of that. If cortisol cements trauma in the brain, just cement something better before the trauma can settle in.

  35. Cortisol is an inflammatory. It's also the chemical the brain releases during stress. NSAIDs and cortisone stop cortisol. Also water is wet, the sky is blue, and common sense is a super power. You can also deal with the symptoms of PTSD with tetris, ecstasy, ayahuasca, possibly peyote. Don't trust the FDA to give a rats ass about your health ether. To them you are expendable unless you have a billion dollars behind your name on a form. Do your own research, self medicate if you can. Develop some common sense about dosage. Don't have kids. Avoid all stress if possible. Kids are stress incarnate.

  36. No. It is changing society. Anything else is a horrible over sticky infected bandaid.

    To try and get rid of the symptoms from a horrible event or events will allow the horrible events to grow.

    Who would put money into this research? Abusers? Come on….

    “Let me beat the crap out of you…(hours of beatings)….here take this pill. You won’t flitch later.”

    Ptsd is not the problem. Ptsd was the answer to the trauma , which is the problem.

  37. what about a PTSD reaction towards needles? Wouldn't an injection of this cause more harm? I actually developed a phobia to needles and have PTSD to anything sticking me

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