Facebook Pixel

Women Health Join this Group

PTSD and Physical Illness Come Hand by Hand

By June 24, 2019 - 1:11am

A post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental issue caused by a traumatic event in a person’s life. The specter of possible events is very wide - from wars and accidents to childhood trauma or abuse. Sometimes, the trauma isn’t only mental but physical too. In such cases, a person is broken not only because of the emotional load but also due to certain disabilities that may change her or his life forever.

However, these possible physical disabilities aren’t the only ones that come together with PTSD. This mental condition is linked to numerous disorders in physical health - partially caused by stress and emotional suffering, partially by self-destructive behavior and unhealthy coping mechanisms that are very common among people with PTSD (especially those who skip the necessary therapy).

The Most Common PTSD-Related Physical Health Issues
There is a list of the most common physical conditions diagnosed in people with PTSD. There can be the backgrounds for them already present at the moment of trauma and triggered by it. Or they can develop only after the traumatic experience as an indirect result of unhealthy (in all possible meanings) life choices.

Compensating the lack of positive emotions with comfort food is among the most popular abnormal compensating behaviors. Very often, this food is sweet, because the insulin rush it causes really helps feel better on some point. However, this effect doesn’t last long but manages to do more harm to your general health that you can even imagine. Moreover, self-comforting with sugar is as addictive as drugs. Overconsumption of sugar is the fastest way to diabetes and multiple illnesses related to this severe systemic disease.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome
Although polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is linked to a hormonal imbalance in women, it’s possible to develop it purely from poor lifestyle choices. This is how it works. The more weight a woman gains (due to the emotional issues such as PTSD, depression, anxiety, and others, having a lack of motivation to live healthily), the more imbalanced are her hormones. And vice versa - a healthy diet and physical exercises are one of the most helpful strategies to treat PCOS.

Gastrointestinal diseases
There can be two causes for this related to PTSD. The first is the consumption of unhealthy comfort food that has a physical impact on the gastrointestinal tract. The second is the tight connection between emotional health and digestion. Our excretory system is very sensitive to stress and mental health. The irritable bowel syndrome is often treated with the help of psychotherapy since our emotional blocks, traumas, and fears influence the digestive function.

Chronic pain
The chronic pain that developed in people with PTSD that didn’t have debilitating injuries can be a purely nervous condition. Feeling depressed, which is common for PTSD, doesn’t let the brain produce enough endorphins that reduce pain. Fibromyalgia is also very common in such people. At the moment, there are no scientifically approved causes for this disease, but it is known that it occurs more often in people with mental issues and depression.

Respiratory issues
Respiratory system diseases and breathing problems are related to PTSD in several ways. The emotional load, stress, and depression lowers our immunity, so there are more chances to catch an infection. There are also lifestyle issues like neglect to personal hygiene and eating unhealthy food which is not uncommon in PTSD patients, that also reduce the immune protection of the body. A poor posture caused by sedentary behavior can physically distort the respiratory organs and cause problems with breathing.

Cardiovascular diseases
Besides the factors harming health in general that were mentioned above, unfortunately, substance abuse should be mentioned as one of the powerful harms to heart and vessels. People with PTSD who don’t receive the necessary help, have higher chances to fall under substance addiction. Smoking, alcohol, and drug consumption exhaust the vessels, interferes with proper blood circulation and overwhelms the heart. Besides, PTSD-related emotional symptoms (anxiety, panic attacks with hyperventilation, frustration, etc. ) affect the proper function of the heart as well.

How Can You Reduce the Risks
As you can see, there are two vectors seen distinctly in all these manifestations. The first vector is physical health and lifestyle. Healthy food and physical exercises are crucial for both physical and mental health. Certain products help reduce the emotional symptoms of PTSD and have a reputation of natural antidepressants. Also, a menu rich in vitamins will help boost your immunity.

Speaking about physical exercises, it is important that you shouldn’t hate what you’re doing. Choose an activity you will enjoy. It shouldn’t necessarily be boring training in a gym. Dancing, yoga, even long walks - any physical activity is good. The choice is wide. Besides, this can not only solve your weight problem but help you look better and feel better about yourself. Physical activity also makes your body produce hormones that boost your mood and fill you with energy.

The second vector is purely mental, and you'll need a specialist to work with. The trauma you carry in your mind needs to be spoken about and worked on. This process is difficult and challenging, but totally necessary. Work on both physical and mental front can really do wonders with your life and mind.

Group Leader

Related Topics


About Women Health


Toronto, Ontario


This Group is Open to all EmpowHER.com members