The repercussions of experiencing a traumatic event, such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks or a personal loss, can be tough to deal with. Apart from having to deal with the trauma related to the incident, sometimes the person experiences unusual feelings such as incident-related flashbacks, nightmares or intrusive memories further which exaggerate the problem.
When such feelings persist for a significant period of time, they can lead to the development of a severe mental health condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. PTSD is defined as a serious mental disorder that affects people who witnessed or experienced a natural disaster, serious accident, terrorist attack, violent personal assault such as rape, or other life-threatening events. Although the condition can affect any individual, it is mostly diagnosed in soldiers or veterans.
Research has proven that when an individual is affected by a mental illness, he/she is at a higher risk of developing numerous other mental and physical health problems. A new study has further established a connection between PTSD and dementia. It states that individuals who are diagnosed with PTSD are at an increased risk of developing dementia, particularly, if they are taking psychotropic medications. Dementia is a medical condition that refers to the loss of memory and other mental abilities that are severe enough to interfere with one’s daily life.
The study has been conducted by the researchers from the University of Iowa and published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
5.4 percent veterans diagnosed with PTSD
The research findings are based on the health data of 3,139,780 U.S. veterans with an average age of 68 years, with the final analysis done on 417,172 U.S. veterans. Following are some of the significant findings:
- Approximately 5.4 percent of the veterans in the study had been diagnosed with PTSD including those who were diagnosed with dementia during the nine year follow-up period.
- Veterans with PTSD were found to be more likely to develop health problems linked to a higher risk for dementia. These included traumatic brain injury, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), psychiatric disorders, substance abuse and other health issues.
- Taking certain antidepressants, tranquilizers, sedatives, or antipsychotic medications also increased the risk of developing dementia among veterans as compared to the risks for veterans who didn’t take such medications. The medications included selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), novel antidepressants and atypical antipsychotics.
- Veterans who used novel antidepressants, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and benzodiazepines were also more likely to be diagnosed with dementia whether or not they had PTSD.
- The risk of dementia was found to be higher among veterans taking drugs, irrespective of the fact that they were diagnosed with PTSD or not.
The authors said that interaction among these psychoactive drugs probably affected the way in which PTSD impacted a person’s risk of developing dementia.
They also emphasized on the need to conduct further research to learn more about PTSD and psychoactive drugs, including dosage, how long to take the medications and people who could benefit the most from them.
Help for PTSD
An individual with PTSD may experience feelings of hopelessness, shame or despair and mental health problems such as depression or anxiety. Such a person can also have drinking or drug problems, chronic pain, employment or relationship issues, etc. Considering the debilitating effects of PTSD, it is important to opt for medical intervention as soon as symptoms of PTSD begin to develop.
If you or someone you know is dealing with PTSD or any other mental health disorder, Sovereign Health can help you find details about the best mental health rehabilitation centers in California. Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164, or chat online with one of our experts to get complete information about the facilities offering comprehensive residential mental health treatment programs in California.