Researchers have found differences in the eyes of those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Researchers at Swansea University, UK, have found that a person’s eyes can reveal whether they have had any traumatic experiences in the past. The research was published in the July issue of the journal Biological Psychology and focused on patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
People suffering from PTSD tend to develop higher sensitivity to everyday events, which ends up affecting their ability to “switch off” and relax. So the scientists decided to look for differences in the eyes of volunteers who did or did not have the disorder.
In the test, the researchers measured the pupil size of the participants’ eyes while they observed images associated with pleasant, neutral, and threatening things and experiences, such as weapons and animals – and the results were surprising. According to the article, the response of people with PTSD was different even from those who had trauma, but who did not have PTSD.
The pupils of people with PTSD not only dilated while looking at threatening images, but also while looking at pleasant ones. “These findings allow us to understand that people with PTSD are automatically primed for threat and fear responses in any uncertain emotional context,” Aimee McKinnon, the study’s leader, said in a statement.
According to the researchers, the results also suggest that, during therapy, it is important to address all issues involving the daily lives of patients with PTSD and not just negative or threatening situations. “Clinicians need to understand this impact of positive stimuli in order to support their service-users overcome the significant challenges they face,” McKinnon said.