PTSD linked to accelerated aging?

Several studies also suggested a mild-to-moderate association between post-traumatic stress disorder and premature death.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Post-traumatic stress disorder may cause accelerated aging, a new study suggests.

Previous research has linked post-traumatic stress disorder with mental health disorders such as depression, insomnia, anger, eating disorders and substance abuse. But, this is the first time a possible causal link has been identified between post-traumatic stress disorder and a number of biological processes that could lead to faster aging, the University of California, San Diego investigators said.

The researchers reviewed 64 studies. Six of the studies found that people with post-traumatic stress disorder had reduced telomere length.

Telomeres—which are protective caps on the end of chromosomal DNA strands—become shorter as people age. Over time, as cells replicate, telomeres at the end of the DNA strand are loped off.

Other studies reviewed found a link between post-traumatic stress disorder and higher levels of signs of inflammation, like C-reactive protein, and that people with PTSD have higher rates of aging-related conditions such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, dementia and ulcers.

Several studies also suggested a mild-to-moderate association between post-traumatic stress disorder and premature death.

Although the studies reviewed point to associations between post-traumatic stress disorder and factors related to accelerated aging, the new review wasn’t designed to prove that post-traumatic stress disorder was the cause of the faster aging.

The findings were published online May 7 in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

“These findings do not speak to whether accelerated aging is specific to post-traumatic stress disorder, but they do argue the need to re-conceptualize post-traumatic stress disorder as something more than a mental illness,” first author Dr. James Lohr, professor of psychiatry at University of California, San Diego, said in a university news release.

The findings show the need for further research into the possible links between post-traumatic stress disorder and accelerated aging and how it might affect treatment of people with post-traumatic stress disorder, Lohr added.

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about post-traumatic stress disorder.

 

SOURCES: University of California, San Diego, news release, May 8, 2015

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