A quick injection can prevent post-traumatic stress disorder in 60 percent of those who experience trauma, researchers say.
Prof. Joseph Zohar of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Sheba Medical Center, in collaboration with Prof. Hagit Cohen from Ben-Gurion University says that when a person suffers trauma, the body naturally increases its secretion of cortisone.
Taking this natural phenomenon into account, Prof. Zohar set out to discover what a single extra dose of cortisone could do, when administered up to six hours after test subjects experienced a traumatizing event.
The researchers initiated a double-blind study in an emergency room, in which trauma victims entering the hospital were randomly assigned to receive a placebo or the cortisone treatment. Follow-up exams took place two weeks, one month, and three months after the event.
The study found that those patients who had received a shot of cortisone were more than sixty percent less likely to develop PTSD.
This approach also may circumvent the harm caused by dosing traumatised patients with other pharmaceuticals. In the emergency room, traumatized patients are often given medications such as Valium or Xanax, aimed at calming them down.
In fact, Prof. Zohar says, these pills interfere with our natural and potent recovery process, hindering the secretion of cortisone.
"Looking at the long term effect, people who received these medications had a greater chance of developing PTSD than those who did not," he added.
The study will be published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology.