UNM researchers study PTSD responses, seek volunteers

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Researchers at UNMH are on a mission to cure post-traumatic stress disorder. Studies show a third of military members experience PTSD.

"Most research and treatments for PTSD focus on fear responses, especially fear of reminders of traumatic events," Dr. Pilar Sanjuan with the UNM School of Medicine said.

Dr. Sanjuan, a research associate professor, said they recently received $164,000 from the National Institutes of Mental Health to study how PTSD affects a patient’s concentration and attention. The studies will target how the brain responds to unexpected – but not threatening – stimuli.

"Those are often very disruptive for people," Dr. Sanjuan said, "especially if they’re trying to go to school or work a job."

The funding will continue the study that was delayed due to the pandemic. They are now recruiting 50 participants.

According to Dr. Sanjuan, there was something they noticed during the pandemic.

"One recent article did come out that showed veterans had a reduced suicide rate during COVID-19," Dr. Sanjuan said. "I think there’s a lot of people conjecturing trying to figure out what was protected for them."