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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be an acute, chronic or delayed reaction to a traumatic event. Symptoms can include intrusive, disturbing flashbacks or nightmares of the event, accompanied with anxiety and disturbed sleep.
Glucocorticoids, which are released in response to stress, modulate the consolidation, retrieval and extinction of memories. In this Review, de Quervain et al. suggest that, in fear-related disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, targeting glucocorticoid signalling to attenuate fear memories has therapeutic potential.
It is a truism that the brain influences the body and that peripheral physiology influences the brain. Never is this clearer than during stress, where the subtlest emotions or the most abstract thoughts can initiate stress responses, with consequences throughout the body, and the endocrine transducers of stress alter cognition, affect and behavior. For a fervent materialist, few things in life bring more pleasure than contemplating the neurobiology of stress.