Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: From Neurobiology to Cycles of Violence

  • K. M. McCullough
  • K. J. ResslerEmail author


Trauma and stress-related disorders, such as posttraumatic stress (PTSD), are remarkably common and debilitating, and are often characterized by dysregulated threat responses. This chapter will review the neurobiological pathways mediating dysregulated threat and fear responses that underlie PTSD, providing examples of how the biological underpinnings may lead to pathological symptoms. Although PTSD is most often associated with military trauma, it is extremely common in civilian populations with high levels of violence exposure. Through examples and case studies of civilian PTSD, we will show how pervasive childhood and adult trauma increase risk for PTSD and associated substance abuse, depression, and aggression symptoms, contributing to cycles of violence and trauma-related disorders in at-risk communities. Through advances in understanding mechanisms underlying trauma sequelae and intergenerational transmission of risk, new research hopes to lead to novel approaches to treatment and prevention of fear-related disorders such as PTSD.


Fear Threat PTSD Violence Addiction Intergenerational transmission FKBP5 Gene x environment Genetic Psychiatry Trauma 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryMcLean Hospital, Harvard Medical SchoolBelmontUSA

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