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PTSD Influences Long Term Health

thinking manResearch on Vietnam veterans finds that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) increases an individuals’ risk for long-term health problems.

In the study, PTSD was associated with with chronic disease risk factors such as an elevated white blood cell counts and biological signs and symptoms. However, few healthcare providers screen for PTSD in the same way as they screen for other chronic disease risk factors.

“Exposure to trauma has not only psychological effects, but can take a serious toll on a person’s health status and biological functions as well,” says Senior Investigator Joseph Boscarino, PhD, MPH.

“PTSD is a risk factor for disease that doctors should put on their radar screens.”

For this study, Dr. Boscarino examined the health status of 4,462 male Vietnam-era veterans 30 years after their military service. Results are being published in the current edition of the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease.

The study finds that having PTSD was just as good an indicator of a person’s long-term health status as having an elevated white blood cell count. An elevated white blood cell count can indicate a major infection or a serious blood disorder such as leukemia.

The study also found that veterans with high erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), which indicates inflammation, were also at risk. There was a similar finding for a possible indicator of serious neuroendocrine problems.

While these disease markers are measured with a blood test, PTSD is commonly measured with a psychological test or a mental health examination.

This research comes as Geisinger is organizing a national conference on May 13 to address PTSD in combat veterans from rural parts of the country.

Boscarino says that almost anyone who experiences a traumatic event can experience PTSD, meaning accident and disaster victims are also predisposed to the biological risk factors associated with PTSD.

Although therapy doesn’t necessarily have to be extensive, Boscarino says it should occur shortly after a person has experienced a traumatic event. Early treatment may be critical to avoiding depression, PTSD and substance abuse-related problems following trauma.

“As the conflicts in the Middle East continue, we’re seeing a new wave of our service members who have posttraumatic stress,” says Boscarino, a Vietnam veteran. “If we don’t get these personnel help earlier, our research shows that they may experience more serious health problems down the road.”

Source: Geisinger Health System

PTSD Influences Long Term Health

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). PTSD Influences Long Term Health. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 10, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/02/13/ptsd-influences-long-term-health/1909.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.