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Physical Health Conditions Linked to PTSD in Vets

J Affect Disord; ePub 2017 Nov 15; El-Gabalawy, et al

Certain physical conditions are associated with full and subthreshold posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in US military veterans, according to a recent study. These results highlight the potential importance of PTSD dysphoric arousal in risk models of certain physical conditions in this population. Data were analyzed from a population-based sample of 3,157 US military veterans who participated in the 2011 National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study. Multivariable logistic regression analyses evaluated associations between full and subthreshold PTSD, and physical conditions. Researchers found:

  • A total 6.1% of the sample met screening criteria for full PTSD and 9.0% for subthreshold PTSD.
  • Both full and subthreshold PTSD were associated with increased odds of sleep disorder and respiratory conditions.
  • Full PTSD was additionally associated with increased odds of osteoporosis or osteopenia and migraine, while subthreshold PTSD only was associated with increased odds of diabetes.
  • Analyses of PTSD symptom clusters revealed that all of these associations were primarily driven by dysphoric arousal symptoms, which are characterized by sleep difficulties, anger/irritability, and concentration problems.


El-Gabalawy R, Blaney C, Tsai J, Sumner JA, Pietrzak RH. Physical health conditions associated with full and subthreshold PTSD in U.S. military veterans: Results from the National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study. [Published online ahead of print November 15, 2017]. J Affect Disord. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2017.11.058.

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