Alexis Dent
November 12, 2016 2:14 pm
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A new study has shed some light on how post traumatic stress disorder affects teenage girls, and it could lead to crucial treatment advancement for those living with PTSD. Although past studies have shown that in response to trauma, teenage girls are more likely to develop PTSD than teenage boys, it wasn’t quite clear why. However, the Stanford University School of Medicine published a study that provides a biological reasoning for this difference between teen girls and teen boys. According to their findings, the part of the brain called the insula is physically different in teenage girls with PTSD than for their male peers.

The research points to some key differences, including “structural differences between the sexes in one part of the insula,” which is the part of the brain that takes cues from the body to process empathy and emotions. Basically, adolescent girls have a different response than adolescent boys because of a region within the brain that accelerates maturation in girls with PTSD. Boys do not experience the same accelerated maturation, which is why their symptoms for PTSD manifest in different ways.

To reach these conclusions, the brains of traumatized teens were compared to a non-traumatized control group. According to the study, “[the insula] had larger volume and surface area in traumatized boys than in boys in the control group,” Conversely, the volume and surface area of the insula was smaller in girls who had faced trauma when compared to girls in the control group.

An author of the study, Dr. Victor Carrion, further explained their findings. Because the insula appears to be related to the development of PTSD, she said, “the difference we saw between the brains of boys and girls who have experienced psychological trauma is important… it may help explain differences in trauma symptoms between sexes.”

Dr. Megan Klabunde, one of Dr. Carrion’s colleagues added, “Our findings suggest it is possible that boys and girls could exhibit different trauma symptoms and that they might benefit from different approaches to treatment.”

So there you have it. Because of the way our brains are wired, teenage girls manifest their PTSD symptoms differently than teen boys. Hopefully, this discovery will lead to further findings on how to best treat the disorder across various populations.

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