The Mystery of Shellshock Solved

Now, a century after the first cases began to appear, scientists believe they have for the first time identified the signature brain injury that could explain why some soldiers go on to have their lives blighted by the condition.

After conducting autopsies on US combat veterans who survived improvised explosive device (IED) blasts in Iraq and Afghanistan but later died of other causes, researchers in the US found the ex-soldiers had a unique type of brain injury.

Source: The mystery of shellshock solved: Scientists identify the unique brain injury caused by war

I learnt that shellshock is not PTSD – they’re different things.  All the article gives is that the medical community can detect shellshock, not cure it sadly.  But it’s a step closer.

Mental Resilience: Now in Pill Form

Charney and colleagues realised that the survival school was a perfect controlled environment for the study of acute stress on the human body. They got permission to expose regular and special forces soldiers to tests before and after the training, and before and immediately after mock interrogations. These tests revealed that blood levels of a brain chemical called neuropeptide Y (NPY) correlated strongly with the soldiers’ ability to cope. Those with more NPY performed better during the interrogations. What’s more, the special forces soldiers, known for being especially cool under stress, had significantly higher levels of NPY compared with regular troops, both before and after the training. Twenty-four hours after the programme had finished, NPY levels in the special forces soldiers were back to their baseline, while those in regular soldiers were still considerably lower.

Source: Could a Simple Pill Make You Mentally Stronger?

The article is brief, and only hints at treatment for depression and PTSD.  But in theory it could apply to various things to help people stay on track with goals like:

  • weight loss
  • cravings

But does it have it’s own addiction risk?