Brief presentations of information on aspects of PTSD:

  • Warning Signs
    Warning signs of trauma-related stress
    , from Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.

  • Warning Signs from APA
    Warning signs of trauma-related stress, from the American Psychological Assn.
  • Normalizing Emotions
    You are not alone! description of normal emotions following a disaster, from the American Red Cross.

The Peniston Protocol
PTSD Treatment

Dendrite Forest Home

Research and Education on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

A National Center Fact Sheet

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:

  • vulnerability to hypertension and atherosclerotic heart disease

  • abnormalities in thyroid and other hormone functions

  • increased susceptability to infections and immunologic disorders

  • problems with pain perception, pain tolerance, and chronic pain syndromes

Neurochemical changes associated with trauma exposure and PTSD also may have psychological and behavioral effects that can further impair physical health, such as:

  • depression

  • social isolation and troubled relationships with other people

  • increased hostility and anger

  • poor coping skills

  • increases in alcohol consumption and smoking

  • poor eating habits

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:

  • "Trauma, PTSD, and Physical Health" by Paula P. Schnurr, PTSD Research Quarterly 7(3): 1-6 (Summer 1996)

  • "The Relationship Between Trauma, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Physical Health" by Matthew J. Friedman and Paula P. Schnurr, in Neurobiological and Clinical Consequences of Stress: From Normal Adaptation to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, edited by Matthew J. Friedman, Dennis S. Charney, and Ariel Y. Deutch (Philadelphia: Lippincott-Raven, 1995), pp. 507-524.




contact us
The information on this Web site is presented for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for informed medical advice or training. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a mental health problem without consulting a qualified health or mental health care provider.
Dendrite Forest Home