In this fast-paced life, stress tends to set into individuals quickly. In the current scenario, there have been multiple reports regarding disorders caused due to stress. It is normal for a human to react with strong feelings after the occurrence of a stressful event, but when the feelings don’t fade away with time it is known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. There is a physiological perspective to it. It is observed that women have a hard time recovering from stress as compared to men. Why is it so? What is holding women back? According to a study, hormones are known to play an important role in this. The hormone estrogen which is majorly found in women can be taken in charge for this. This is the sole reason why women are unable to handle post-traumatic stress. This stress is a big hurdle to living a normal life again.
Rebecca Shansky, an associate professor of psychology at the Northeastern University, is trying to understand the cause and finding the cure to it. She initiated her research by mapping brain signals of female rats which would help in finding a cure for women.
“What we and other people have seen is that women and female rats with naturally high estradiol levels, at that peak across the menstrual cycle [of a human] or the estrus cycle [of a rat], do better at this extinction learning,” Shansky says.
Diving deep into the working, estradiol (estrogen) levels are at its peak before ovulation and this hormone is responsible for triggering dopamine release in the brain. Dopamine is known to transfer signals between the neurons and form memories of the incident which makes it difficult for women to get over the trauma. The path of the Dopamine can be tracked by injecting fluorescent dye inside the female rats. This would help in tagging of the dopamine neurons which are responding for estradiol production.
“We can then create a map, essentially, of what different parts of the brain are involved in this response, how they connect to each other, and if they are different when the animals have high versus low estradiol,” Shansky says.
Shansky is working religiously on mapping and finding the neurons responsible for the cause. This would help in finding an effective cure for women and help them lead a normal life after a trauma. Hopefully, Shansky research will be successful in changing the lives of a lot of women.