Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a serious mental condition that a reported 3.5% of American adults suffer from at some point in their lifetime.
The condition often manifests in intrusive thoughts surrounding the traumatic event and intense psychological distress. However, PTSD also wreaks havoc in people’s physical health making them more prone to suffer from certain illnesses or health issues.
If you or a loved one has PTSD, be wary of the following physical effects of the condition.
Joint & Muscle Pains
Due to the anxiety and hyper-vigilance that people with PTSD go through, they also become more likely to experience joint and muscle pains. As Dr. Michael Murphy explains, your brain on PTSD can react in a similar way to the immune system reacting to a virus.
Thus, it remains in a constant state of fear, which can then pave the way for physical symptoms to manifest.
If you suffer from PTSD, then you probably experience migraines more often than those who don’t. Research by Psychology Today found that people who experienced adverse childhood experiences are more likely to suffer from intense headaches as well.
Although experts aren’t sure exactly why this is the case, they theorize that it may be because of the emotional strain and high stress levels people with PTSD have.
Strokes & Heart Attacks
While pains and headaches are uncomfortable, they aren’t really serious conditions. However, some people with PTSD are unfortunate in that they may be at risk to experience hypertension.
The condition is known to increase the likelihood of a heart attack happening. The possibility of having a stroke is also increased by high blood pressure.
According to Murphy, people with PTSD often experience elevated chemicals and hormones due to their flight or fight response being hyperactive. These higher levels can cause damage to blood vessels.
The emotional problems brought on by traumatic experiences can also lead people to abuse certain substances from alcohol to prescription drugs. This in turn would likely put more toll on the sufferer’s body and overall physical health.
Experts observe that people with PTSD often self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to deal with the other symptoms of their disorder.
It’s also feared that those with PTSD are at risk for diseases like the coronavirus. As stated above, hypertension is a common comorbidity with PTSD.
Now, health experts are realizing that conditions like hypertension make people an easy target for COVID-19 and similar disease.