Rape victims suffer traumatic brain damage says a recent study ; koreatimes; humanrescueintermedia

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Rape victims suffer traumatic brain damage
http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2012/09/113_118976.html
By Yun Suh-young09-03-2012 18:08

Local researchers have found that victims of sexual assault who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) not only suffer psychologically but also physically.

According to a recent report on the physiological effects of the disorder in victims of sexual assault, they complained of memory deficiencies, sleep disorders and uncontrollable fear.

Researchers from Ajou University School of Medicine and Ewha Womans University School of Medicine published “Resting cerebral glucose metabolism and perfusion patterns in women with posttraumatic stress disorder related to sexual assault” in the August edition of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, a global psychiatry journal published by the International Society for Neuroimaging in Psychiatry.

This is the first time that PTSD patients were evaluated on their cerebral perfusion (blood flow to the brain) and glucose metabolism.

Twelve women between 19 and 51 suffering from the disorder were chosen as the experimental group and were compared to two different control groups of healthy women. Ten from the control group, aged from 26 to 50, underwent single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and 15 other women in the control group between ages 32 to 53 had positron emission tomography (PET). The PTSD patients underwent both tests.

The patients were all women who had suffered from sexual assaults, and had been diagnosed with the stress disorder over nine months ago. It is usually diagnosable six months after the psychological trauma.

Results showed that the PTSD patients showed decreased perfusion and glucose metabolism in the hippocampus which is responsible for memory and fear control activities.

“This means sex crime victims suffer from memory deficiencies and have a hard time controlling their fears. The decrease in memory function comes from their efforts to erase the traumatic incident from their memories,” said An Young-sil, professor at the Department of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging at Ajou University who participated in the research.

The PTSD patients also showed significantly higher glucose metabolic activities in the cerebellum than the control group. The increased functional activity in the cerebellum causes a hyper-aroused state which causes symptoms such as increased heart rate variation, exaggerated startled responses and sleep abnormalities.

“Simply put, the patients are overly awake and react extremely sensitively even to small external stimulus,” said An.

To treat these PTSD patients who are victims of sex offenses, medication goes side by side with psychological treatment.

“The treatment of the disorder of sex crime victims depends on their symptoms. Usually they take medication while going through counseling. There are, however, more victims who are still unknown. Although more women see themselves as victims and are coming out with their problems and asking for help, there are still so many women who try to conceal their problems due to shame,” said Kim Shin-young, a doctor who participated in the study.

ysy@koreatimes.co.kr

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