Ghrelin- the “hunger hormone” linked to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Stress is a response provoking action to escape or fight back. When this becomes chronic, it causes different mental illnesses. Studies show that during chronic stress, the “hunger hormone” ghrelin is released, which controls the growth hormone amygdale. It is produced in stomach and travels across the body.
Researches were done on rats administered with drugs to stimulate ghrelin receptor over prolonged period. Fear was measured through an innocuous, novel tone. While all rats showed fear, the ones with higher ghrelin levels froze for a longer period of time. Consequently rats exposed to chronic stress over long period showed higher levels of ghrelin release in their bodies.
The focus now is more on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which produces adrenaline, cortisol and hormones stimulating “fight or flight” behaviour. However, further studies reveal that ghrelin-initiated stress pathway is independent of HPA axis. Drugs are developed which interfere with ghrelin to lower PTSD.