Understanding the Scientific Basis of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Precision Behavioral Management Overrides Stigmatization

Kenneth Blum, M. C. Gondré-Lewis, E. J. Modestino, L. Lott, D. Baron, D. Siwicki, T. McLaughlin, A. Howeedy, M. H. Krengel, M. Oscar-Berman, P. K. Thanos, I. Elman, M. Hauser, L. Fried, A. Bowirrat, R. D. Badgaiyan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe polygenic disorder triggered by environmental factors. Many polymorphic genes, particularly the genetic determinants of hypodopaminergia (low dopamine function), associate with a predisposition to PTSD as well as substance use disorder. Support from the National Institutes of Health for neuroimaging research and molecular, genetic applied technologies has improved understanding of brain reward circuitry functions that have inspired the development of new innovative approaches to their early diagnosis and treatment of some PTSD symptomatology and addiction. This review presents psychosocial and genetic evidence that vulnerability or resilience to PTSD can theoretically be impacted by dopamine regulation. From a neuroscience perspective, dopamine is widely accepted as a major neurotransmitter. Questions about how to modulate dopamine clinically in order to treat and prevent PTSD and other types of reward deficiency disorders remain. Identification of genetic variations associated with the relevant genotype–phenotype relationships can be characterized using the Genetic Addiction Risk Score (GARS®) and psychosocial tools. Development of an advanced genetic panel is under study and will be based on a new array of genes linked to PTSD. However, for now, the recommendation is that enlistees for military duty be given the opportunity to voluntarily pre-test for risk of PTSD with GARS, before exposure to environmental triggers or upon return from deployment as part of PTSD management. Dopamine homeostasis may be achieved via customization of neuronutrient supplementation “Precision Behavioral Management” (PBM™) based on GARS test values and other pro-dopamine regulation interventions like exercise, mindfulness, biosensor tracking, and meditation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7836-7850
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Neurobiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Genetic addiction risk score (GARS™)
  • Hypodopaminergia
  • Neuronutrient
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Pro-dopamine regulation (KB220PAM)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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