Do you have ptsd, or would you like to help those who do?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that 12.2 per cent of the population experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in their lifetime.  Professor Mountford aims to develop new brain imaging technology to assist in the diagnostic process of PTSD. Currently, diagnosis of PTSD relies heavily on subjective psychological assessment.

Australia’s Translational Research Institute (TRI), The Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), at the University of Newcastle and Metro South Hospital and Health Services are conducting a study to determine if there are chemical changes in the brains of people who have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), using a conventional magnetic resonance imaging scanner (MRI).

PTSD  is  a  complex  condition  where  sufferers  are  affected  by  a  varying  range  of symptoms following an exposure to a traumatic situation or event. Sufferers may experience symptoms such as recurrent and intrusive thoughts, nightmares, flashbacks, or distress and avoidance of situations that are similar to the event that first occurred. It is not yet known why some people experience PTSD following a traumatic event and others do not.

About the Study

This research study aims to try to determine if the chemicals that allow the brain to carry out its normal functions are different in a person who suffers from PTSD when compared to a person who does not. In this study researchers will use a technique called Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) to look for any changes in the normal chemistry of the brain. The researchers will then compare the images obtained from participants who have PTSD with those who do not.  The researchers conducting this study hope that by using MRS to look for and isolate any abnormalities in the brain chemicals of those with PTSD this may lead to improvements in the diagnosis and treatment for PTSD suffers in the future.

In this clinical trial, we are trying to find differences between the brains of people with PTSD and the brains of those who don’t have it.  This is the first study to use sophisticated medical imaging to endeavour to find biochemical makers in the brain that indicate PTSD.  This would lead to a medical diagnosis of the condition and greatly assist in the development of targeted treatments.

In order to do that, we need to determine whether PTSD is present.  Those volunteering to be part of the trial, as a sufferer of PTSD, will be assessed prior to being scanned.  This involves a series of questions about your physical and mental health.  People with multiple mental health issues or other conditions that may cause chemical changes in the brain such as pregnancy, will be excluded from the trial.

We are looking for volunteers who may have served, or are currently serving, in Defence, Police and Emergency Services, or people who have been subjected to brain trauma leaving them with PTSD.  We would also like to recruit family and friends to be part of the control group of people without PTSD. 

How can you help?

We are looking for people aged between 18 – 60 who have been either diagnosed with, or suspect they have PTSD. We also require people who do not have PTSD to participate as healthy controls.

Your participation will involve:

1.      an online questionnaire

2.      a one hour phone or face-to-face interview with a clinical psychologist

3.      an online neuropsychology assessment

4.      Two one-hour MRI scans at your nearest suitable facility (please note: participant transport is available, and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis).

Participation is confidential and all responses and information will remain anonymous. All information regarding the study can be found in the Participant Information and Consent Form.

If you would like to participate or require further information, please contact the TRI Clinical Research Team at [email protected] or call (07) 3443 7000 for further information.

This project has been approved by the Hunter New England Health Human Research Ethics Committee (Ref No: 13/04/17/4/04) and the Metro South Human Research Ethics Committee (Ref no: HREC/15/QPAH/522).

Version 2.0 | 28 February 2019.