HealthDay News — Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may cause accelerated aging, a new study suggests.
Previous research has linked PTSD with mental health disorders such as depression, insomnia, anger, eating disorders and substance abuse. But, this is the first time PTSD has been potentially linked to a number of biological processes that could lead to faster aging, the University of California, San Diego investigators said.
The researchers reviewed 64 studies. Six of the studies found that people with PTSD had reduced telomere length. Telomeres — which are protective caps on the end of DNA strands on chromosomes — become shorter as people age.
Other studies reviewed found a link between PTSD and higher levels of signs of inflammation, and that people with PTSD have higher rates of aging-related conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and ulcers.
Several studies also suggested a mild-to-moderate association between PTSD and premature death.
Although the studies reviewed point to associations between PTSD and factors related to accelerated aging, the new review wasn’t designed to prove that PTSD was the cause of the faster aging.
The findings were published online in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.
Lohr JB, et al. Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Associated with Premature Senescence? A Review of the Literature. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2015; doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2015.04.001.