Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be difficult to live with and create secondary issues for the people who experience them. A recent study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, has found women who have PTSD symptoms may also be more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.
"When we are under stress we are more likely to get sick, but women with PTSD are in this extreme stress response a lot of the time," said study author Dr. Karestan Koenen, an epidemiology professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, according to Time magazine. "It's so important that people understand PTSD isn't just in veterans. Most PTSD is just in regular people in the community."
The study looked at almost 50,000 women participating in the Nurses' Health Study II to determine whether there is a link between PTSD symptoms and type 2 diabetes. With the information at hand, the researchers were able to trace this possible connection over the course of 22 years. Women with the most symptoms of PTSD had double the baseline risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
The researchers theorize having a higher body mass index accounted for much of the risk of diabetes, which many women with PTSD symptoms had. Antidepressant use was also positively correlated with diabetes risk - a finding the researchers are not currently able to explain. While associations were shown between between diabetes and other factors, this type of study does not prove cause and effect.
This study is not only an important reminder for clinicians to consider the whole picture - both mental and physical - when seeing patients, but is also an indication of just how seriously stress can impact health. If you are at risk for diabetes or currently have the condition, it is vital for you to remember that your mental and emotional health could have a real effect on how your physical health progresses over time.