Brief presentations of information on
aspects of PTSD:
CENTER FOR PTSD
Research suggests that a relationship exists between exposure to traumatic events (such as war, crime, or natural disaster), experiencing the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and problems with physical health. Health problems associated with PTSD may involve a variety of bodily systems, including the cardiovascular, neurological, and gastrointestinal systems.
PTSD may promote poor health through a complex interaction between biological and psychological mechanisms. Study of these mechanisms is in progress at the National Center for PTSD and at other laboratories around the world. Current thinking is that the experience of trauma brings about neurochemical changes in the brain. These changes may have biological effects on health, such as:
Neurochemical changes associated with trauma exposure and PTSD also may have psychological and behavioral effects that can further impair physical health, such as:
Both male and female Vietnam and Persian Gulf veterans with PTSD have been shown to have poorer health and greater utilization of medical services than did comparable veterans without PTSD. Similar effects have been found in survivors of earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters; in crime victims, especially women who have experienced sexual assault; and in survivors of child abuse.
Studies of patients seeking physical health care show that many have been exposed to trauma and experience post-traumatic stress, but have not received appropriate mental health care. Recent evidence suggests that timely brief psychological assistance can prevent or greatly reduce the severity of PTSD.
This factsheet was based on:
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