PTSD Linked to Long-Term Physical, Emotional and Cognitive Symptoms

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a form of anxiety disorder that occurs if you have experienced an event that is traumatic. PTSD may be set off by events such as domestic abuse, assault, terrorism, rape and war.

While the causes are unknown, there are many psychological, genetic, physical and social factors that are involved. Your body responds differently to stress, and many hormones and neurotransmitters are affected. Symptoms of this disorder include "reliving" the event, which can disturb everyday activity, avoidance, arousal, agitation, dizziness, fainting, headache and tension.

New studies are showing that those suffering with combat-related PTSD may have long-term physical, emotional and cognitive problems, such as headaches, tinnitus, irritability and diminished cognitive abilities. In a study conducted by the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Health Care System, 953 U.S. National Guard soldiers were surveyed. Four weeks before they were to return home, they were surveyed, as well as 12 months after. Of the 953 soldiers, 7.6 percent met the qualifications for PTSD during the first survey, and by the second survey, the percentage jumped to 18.2.

In the first survey, 9.2 percent of the soldiers had a concussion, and 30.2 percent of those who reported concussions possibly had PTSD. During the second survey, 30.4 percent of the soldiers who reported concussions had probable PTSD. The soldiers with a history of multiple concussions had a higher chance of post-concussive symptoms after deployment. Moreover, the link between the symptoms and concussion were not notable.

Overall, the study concluded that veterans who developed PTSD from combat are at a much higher risk of developing other types of mental illnesses and physical disabilities. Some mental illnesses include bi-polar disorder, depression and anxiety.

The researchers of the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Health Care System shared in a statement that the combat-related PTSD was associated with post-concussive symptoms, but there were small amounts of evidence of a long-term negative impact of concussion/mild traumatic brain injury.

The earlier PTSD is able to be confronted, the better. In order to take control of PTSD, it is important to be in a safe environment, where the survivor feels a sense of predictability. It is imperative for the survivor to focus on their feelings with the guidance and support of a skilled doctor or therapist.

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