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PTSD Linked to Diabetes Risk, Study

Update Date: May 17, 2013 03:35 PM EDT

People with posttraumatic stress disorder are significantly more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.

Researchers believe that the sustained activation of the hormonal stress axis due to chronic stress symptoms may be responsible for the increased risk for diabetes.

The findings published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research revealed that people suffering from PTSD have a significantly risk of developing the metabolic disease. PTSD is a chronic stress response syndrome whose symptoms develop after extremely stressful life events of exceptionally threatening or catastrophic nature.

Researchers from the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the University Hospital Gießen and Marburg have for the provided the first evidence of a strong link between the two illnesses.

Dr. Karoline Lukaschek from the Institute of Epidemiology II (EPI II) at the Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU) and Prof. Johannes Kruse from the Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Gießen and Marburg, analyzed data from the population based KORA cohort study.  Researchers identified a total of 50 participants who suffered from PTSD and an additional 261 who displayed symptoms of partial PTSD.  Researchers also examined 498 participants who suffered from manifest type 2 diabetes and 333 participants who displayed signs of pre-diabetic metabolic state.

After analyzing the study data, researchers found that PTSD significantly raises the risk of type 2 diabetes.  However, researchers found no link between prediabetes and psychological stress.

The findings suggest that chronic stress from PTSD may lead to changes in the hormonal response patterns, which can have a morbid influence on the metabolism and glucose utilization.

Researchers now want to delve deeper into the temporal and causal relationship between PTSD and diabetes.

"Further clarification of the relationships between psychological factors and metabolic disorders will be an important task for diabetes research in the future," Prof. Karl-Heinz Ladwig, research group leader at EPI II said in a news release. "Patients with PTSD and other mental disorders should be given therapy that includes treatment of metabolic risk factors."

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