The medical world has been well aware that post-traumatic stress disorder affects and alters the brain in ways we are still learning to understand. However, a recent research led scientists to believe it can also accelerate the process of aging.
So far, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was known as an illness that causes severe mental anguish, but researchers suggest that people suffering from PTSD may also have to face a more accelerated aging.
According to the statement given by study’s lead author, Dr. Dilip V. Jeste, professor of neurosciences and psychiatry and chair of the Center on Healthy Aging and Senior Care at the University of California San Diego, this study is the first one to draw a connection between PTSD – a psychological disorder with no genetic background, caused by traumatic stress – with long-term effects on biological processes such as aging.
In the same study, the authors also linked and reviewed other studies that attempted to explain the link between PTSD and early aging. It was a difficult task due to the lack of a standard definition of premature aging, but researchers focused instead on more quantifiable criteria that would signal faster-than-normal aging: markers of inflammation, medical conditions related to advanced age, and early death.
More than 60 studies tried to provide an explanation, but researchers determined that only 22 of them actually accomplished their task of linking PTSD to the biomarkers; 10 others focused and provided data for the disease’s connection to early death.
One of the connections that were visible in almost all of the studies was the length of telomeres, which are seen as a sign of aging. However, scientists are still not sure as to what the link between their length and PTSD is.
Some studies tried proving that PTSD is actually the cause, and not the effect, shortening the telomeres and basically accelerating the aging process. Other scientists believe, though, that shorter telomeres may cause the person to be more prone to developing PTSD after experiencing a traumatic event.
In the current study, researchers also discovered that markers of inflammation were significantly higher in people with PTSD.
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