Stories about: PTSD

Season of pride

By S. Bryn Austin, ScD, director of Fellowship Research Training in the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital

This past Saturday was Boston’s 42nd annual lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Pride parade. As I stood among the jubilant throngs, cheering on the joyfully endless stream of colorful marchers, cyclists, roller skaters and floats, I was struck by how much we have to be proud of here in Massachusetts. And I mean all of us, not just the LGBT community.

Boston Children's Hospital's presence at this year's LGBT Pride parade

In 2004, Massachusetts was the first state to legally recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry. Twenty years ago, we were the first state to establish—by executive order from then-Governor William Weld—Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA), which are vital school-based support groups for teens. Across the state, we have many outstanding community-based organizations providing valuable resources for LGBT youth. And right here at Boston Children’s Hospital, we’re a national leader in health care and research for LGBT youth.

Every milestone achieved on the path toward equality and inclusion is a direct result of the compassion and dedication of our whole community working together, gay and straight, transgender and nontransgender. We can all share in the season of pride.

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This week on Thrive: Jan. 18 – 22

Here’s a quick look at what Thrive was up to last week.

Researchers have found that morphine can lesson PTSD before it even strikes. Graco recalled 1.5 million strollers. Schools are starting to evaluate students’ weights. Children’s Judith Palfrey, MD, FAAP carried the Olympic torch for children everywhere. Kids spend more time online than they do in school. Children’s Joanne Cox, MD reflects on the alleged Gloucester pregnancy pact on the eve of Lifetime’s movie based on news stories. Keep up with Children’s disaster response teams working in Haiti.

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A magic pill to lesson PTSD before it even strikes?

opium-poppyby Glenn Saxe, MD, director of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Center for Refugee Trauma

“ Into the bowl in which their wine was mixed, she slipped a drug that had the power of robbing grief and anger of their sting and banishing all painful memories”
-Homer, the Odyssey

Morphine and other opiates have been used by humans since the earliest times. The poppy has been a powerful cultural symbol for hundreds or, even, thousands of years. When a chemical agent has ‘traveled’ with humans for such a long span of time it usually means it has strong evolutionary value. A fascinating study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests morphine has the power to blunt the emotional aftereffects of trauma in people who’ve been severely injured.

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How childhood stress can lead to adult depression

MccarthyClaire111408Childhood should be a happy time, not a stressful time—that’s something everyone can agree on. But for many children, childhood is very stressful. Family tragedy, natural disasters, poverty, abuse or exposure to violence (in the home, in the community, or when the country is at war) are just a few examples of what can turn childhood from a dream into a nightmare.

This is terrible for children. It’s not just a matter of robbing them of happiness; more and more research is showing that stress early in life can actually change the way a child’s brain works—for life.

A study in the journal Nature Neuroscience this month helps us understand why. Researchers stressed baby mice (by separating them from their mothers daily for the first 10 days of life). The mice that had this early life stress behaved quite differently from mice that didn’t. They showed signs of anxiety and had trouble learning—even a year later. The researchers tied this to a change in a gene that caused increased production of a certain brain chemical (arginine vasopressin). This in turn led to increased production of corticosteroids, a stress hormone, and to disruption in the parts of the brain that control mood and learning.

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