MU researcher shows how women's childhood trauma influences adulthood

4 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago Monday, April 22 2019 Apr 22, 2019 Monday, April 22, 2019 11:00:00 PM CDT April 22, 2019 in News
By: Bailey Yang, KOMU 8 Reporter
MU's postdoctoral fellow developing model to help women with PTSD

COLUMBIA - A postdoctoral fellow of the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing has developed a model to help psychiatrists to better understand their female post-traumatic stress disorder patients.

Yang Li began her research about women and PTSD while she was a doctoral student at the University of Michigan.

"Back to my PhD study, my advisor and I have been working on exploring the potential biological mechanism that could explain how early trauma could increase the risk for developing PTSD for women," Li said. 

Li said her research focused on two stress-related hormones, cortisol and oxytocin. These two hormones would work together when stress occurs. 

"We hypothesized that if those two stress-related hormones work well and interact well, women would be more resilient to stress," said Li. "Otherwise, they would be more likely to have PTSD."

Li said early childhood trauma in particular would cause a functioning issue for people's stress system. And it could make women more vulnerable while facing both physical and mental trauma in their adulthood. 

Li said that women are more likely to develop PTSD rather than men, and this is why her research is more focused on women.

"We already have study that demonstrated that women are more vulnerable than men when it comes to dealing with PTSD," she said.

Li said she hope her research would help more psychiatrists to better understand trauma survivors.

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