Neuroendocrine activity and memory-related impairments in posttraumatic stress disorder

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This article reviews memory-related impairments in trauma survivors with posttraumatic stress disorder and their possible association to neuroendocrine alterations seen in this disorder. The neuroendocrine profile in PTSD first described in chronically ill combat veterans is characterized by lower basal cortisol levels, higher glucocorticoid receptor number, enhanced sensitivity to exogenous steroids, and increased variation in basal cortisol levels over the diurnal cycle. The generalizability and time course of these neuroendocrine alterations are explored in longitudinal studies and studies in other traumatized populations. These studies suggest that at least some aspects of this neuroendocrine profile can also be seen in other populations, including women, children, and victims of childhood trauma. Additionally, the alterations may be present early in the course of illness, perhaps even in the immediate aftermath of trauma, and may continue to be manifest in elderly trauma survivors. The mechanisms by which these neuroendocrine alterations may influence the formation and processing of traumatic memories are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)857-869
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998


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