Skip to main content

Can Saliva Detect PTSD?

By Jill Feilmeier on July 30, 2013 in Healthy Living

Dentist looking at patient

More than a million Americans are at risk annually for developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after experiencing a terrifying event or serious injury.

PTSD has been identified as a leading cause of disability for many people, including those who have served in the military. Now a team of researchers from the UCLA School of Dentistry is looking to develop a salivary-biomarker approach to identify people at risk for PTSD and depression following a traumatic event. The saliva test may be able to detect the levels of cortisol, a hormone responsible for the body's reaction to threats or danger (known as the fight or flight response).

The goal of the five-year study is to identify people who are at risk for PTSD, allowing them to treat the condition before a traumatic event occurs, rather than wait for an individual to experience one.

The $3.8 million research grant is co-funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and the National Institute's Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research.

Researchers will conduct psychological examinations and obtain corresponding saliva samples from 600 people who have recently been sexually assaulted or experienced a serious physical injury. The samples will be collected over a six-month period. The study was funded in 2012.

What do you think of this idea? Will it help?