PTSD: from neurobiology to pharmacological treatments

Benjamin Kelmendi, Thomas G. Adams, Stephanie Yarnell, Steven Southwick, Chadi G. Abdallah, John H. Krystal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a chronic debilitating psychiatric disorder characterized by symptoms of re-experience, avoidance, and hyperarousal that can arise immediately or many years after exposure to a traumatic event and injury. Although extensive research has been done over the past 30 years, the etiology of PTSD remains largely unknown. Several neurobiological systems have been implicated in the pathophysiology and vulnerability for developing PTSD; however, first-line pharmacotherapies are limited. Less than 30% achieve full remission, and even then, approved pharmacological treatments often take weeks for therapeutic effect. This article aims to review the pathophysiology of PTSD within multiple neurobiological systems and how these mechanisms are used as pharmacologic targets of treatment, as well as their potential for future targets of intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number31858
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Benjamin Kelmendi et al.


  • GABA
  • PTSD
  • cannabinoid
  • glutamate
  • ketamine
  • noradrenergic
  • pharmacology
  • serotonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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