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Latest health and behavior news and advice from the veterinarians at Tufts University.

Features November 2014 Issue

Can You Nip PTSD in the Bud?

Some evidence has come to light, at least in lab animals, that blocking certain types of adrenalin receptors just before or a short time after a traumatic event can keep PTSD from developing. How do you block them? Apparently with a class of drugs known as beta blockers. The drugs don’t erase the memory, but they keep it from imprinting in such a way that it causes flashbacks. It doesn’t allow the memory to color the way everything else in life is viewed.

One beta-blocker that might do the trick is called propranolol. Dr. Dodman believes it deserves further study, not just in dogs but also in people like soldiers. He believes soldiers who witness or experience something awful in the throes of war might be able to avoid PTSD if they take propranolol within hours of the horrific event.

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