Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in later life, according to a new German study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research .
Scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen (HMGU) and the University Hospital Giessen and Marburg found a strong connection between the presence of the severe anxiety disorder and the development of diabetes after examining patients from the population-based KORA F4 cohort study.
Of the 2970 subjects (aged 32–81 years), 50 (1.7%) were identified as having full PTSD, 261 (8.8%) had symptoms of partial PTSD, 333 subjects (11.2%) suffered from type 2 diabetes and 498 (16.8%) from prediabetes, as assessed by an oral glucose tolerance test.
After adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics and metabolic risk factors, full PTSD was significantly associated with type 2 diabetes compared to subjects who hadn’t experienced a traumatic event.
The researchers explained that the presence of PTSD may activate chronic stress symptoms that trigger physiological mechanisms leading to type 2 diabetes.
Professor Karl-Heinz Ladwig, Research Group Leader at HMGU’s Institute of Epidemiology II, said further prospective studies are needed to investigate temporal and causal relationships between PTSD and the metabolic disease, but added that the findings suggest “patients with PTSD and other mental disorders be given therapy that includes treatment of metabolic risk factors”.

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