Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) brings some clients to massage therapy, as they seek peace and relaxation. New research shows PTSD can create permanent changes in the brain.

For this study, researchers at NYU School of Medicine explored for the first time what happens in the brains of combat veterans who have been diagnosed with PTSD, in the absence of external triggers.

The study results “show that the effects of trauma persist in certain brain regions even when combat veterans are not engaged in cognitive or emotional tasks, and face no immediate external threats,” a NYU press release stated. “The findings shed light on which areas of the brain provoke traumatic symptoms and represent a critical step toward better diagnostics and treatments for PTSD.”

The research results were published in Neuroscience Letters, published by Elsevier.