More threads by Daniel E.

Daniel E.
Physical problems often accompany PTSD (

Nearly 1 in 5 had headaches, vascular problems, study found

Reuters, July 25, 2007

NEW YORK - People who develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after experiencing a disaster may also face an increased risk of physical health problems, Dutch researchers report.

Among 896 men and women who survived a 2000 explosion at a fireworks depot that killed 23 people and injured about 1,000, those who developed PTSD symptoms were more than twice as likely to have vascular problems years later, such as atherosclerosis, varicose veins and swelling, Dr. Anja J. E. Dirkzwager of the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research in Utrecht and her colleagues found. The patients also rated themselves as having worse overall health.

While PTSD has been studied extensively, few studies have looked at the long-term effects of exposure to a disaster on physical health, Dirkzwager and her team note in Psychosomatic Medicine.

Therefore, the researchers looked at the medical records of study participants from 1 year before the explosion occurred to up to 4 years afterwards. The researchers also surveyed study participants 3 weeks and 18 months after the disaster.

Eighteen months after the explosion, 18 percent of the study participants met diagnostic criteria for PTSD based on a self-test. On average, these men and women reported more pain, worse physical functioning, less energy and more limitations on their activity due to physical problems.

They also had more somatic complaints ? physical problems that can be a manifestation of emotional problems ? such as headache and indigestion.

The medical records also showed that after the disaster, family doctors were more than twice as likely diagnose vascular problems in the people with PTSD than those without PTSD.

Overall, a statistically significant relationship was observed between PTSD and vascular, musculoskeletal and dermatologic problems.

The researchers conclude that physicians should be on the look out for physical health problems in disaster survivors with PTSD.

Replying is not possible. This forum is only available as an archive.