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Improving Medication-Enhanced Psychotherapy Options For PTSD


August 2020 - April 2021

Project type

Literature Review


Lead Researcher


National Conference of Undergraduate Research (2021)


AUCTUS: The Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship

This research project delves into the realm of improving treatment options for individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from childhood sexual abuse (CSA). Specifically, it focuses on the debilitating symptom of hypervigilance and explores the potential of oxytocin as a medication-enhanced psychotherapy option.

Childhood sexual abuse is distressingly prevalent, and its victims are at a heightened risk of developing long-lasting PTSD. Traditional therapeutic interventions have limited success rates, necessitating the exploration of novel treatment approaches. Women, in particular, exhibit distinct physiological responses in brain regions such as the amygdala and anterior cingulate cortex, leading to heightened hypervigilance symptoms.

Drawing upon recent studies, this research investigates the role of oxytocin, a neuropeptide with anxiolytic and prosocial effects, in reducing hypervigilance in women with CSA-related PTSD. By modulating aberrant amygdala activity and connectivity, oxytocin has shown promising potential to alleviate hypervigilance symptoms, complementing psychotherapy efforts.

Through a comprehensive review of relevant literature, the project highlights the need for enhanced treatment strategies and underscores the importance of addressing hypervigilance in women with CSA-related PTSD. Additionally, it emphasizes the significance of conducting further clinical trials to validate the efficacy and applicability of oxytocin as a pharmacological aid in medication-enhanced psychotherapy for PTSD.

Overall, this project contributes to the growing body of research on PTSD and offers insights into novel avenues for improving the quality of life for individuals affected by CSA-related PTSD, opening doors to more effective treatment options.

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