Patients suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are every bit as likely to have correlative long-term health complications as patients who have chronic disease risk factors such as elevated white blood cell counts and other biological symptoms — but most physicians fail to screen for PTSD in the same manner that they would screen for other risk factors. The finding is the result of recent research conducted at the Geisinger Health System and published in a recent edition of the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease.
The Geisinger study centered on 4,462 male Vietnam-era veterans, and demonstrates that a diagnosis of PTSD is as reliable an indicator of future health problems as an elevated white blood cell count. An elevated white blood cell count can identify impending health problems such as leukemia, or major infections.
While many disease markers are identified with laboratory tests, PTSD is identified with psychological testing or mental health examinations. Authors of the study warn that anyone who experiences a traumatic event can be susceptible to PTSD, which means that accident victims and disaster victims are also predisposed to the biological risk factors that come with PTSD. More information regarding the study can be obtained via this podcast by lead researcher Joseph Boscarino, Ph.D., MPH.
Experts at the National Institutes of Mental Health warn that if you identify with any of the following statements, you may be experiencing PTSD:
- "Sometimes, all of a sudden, I feel like the event is happening over again. I never know when this will occur.
- I have nightmares and bad memories of the terrifying event.
- I stay away from places that remind me of the event.
- I jump and feel very upset when something happens without warning.
- I have a hard time trusting or feeling close to other people.
- I get mad very easily.
- I feel guilty because others died and I lived.
- I have trouble sleeping and my muscles are tense."
If you believe that you or someone you know is experiencing the signs or symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Previously on the DC Metro Area Medical Malpractice Law Blog, we have posted articles related to:
- The role of physicians in diagnosing domestic violence
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) risk factors and warning signs
- Results of the first comprehensive study of maternal depression
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