There have been a number of studies out recently linking anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to later in life issues. While some of these studies are more concrete and conclusive than others, a new study seems to have produced a link between older veterans suffering from PTSD being twice as likely to also develop Alzheimer’s as well as other dementias.
This is one of the first studies linking the two conditions. Despite the research completed, not every question was answered. One thing the study could not differentiate, for example, is if PTSD increases dementias later in life or if suffering from PTSD is a premature symptom of what will likely develop into dementia in older veterans.
Deborah Barnes, PhD from the University of California at San Francisco says this study does not definitely mean they have proven a link between PTSD and dementia. What this study may stand for is concluding that stress is a factor leading to Alzheimer’s. This couples with already existing evidence showing stress damages the hippocampus. This is significant because it is the part of the brain vitally responsible for memory and learning.
The study focused on over 180,000 veterans for 7 years. Over 53,000 of those veterans had been diagnosed with PTSD and none of them had been diagnosed with dementia in 2000. At the study’s end, about 17% of them had been diagnosed with PTSD.
These results were interpreted to mean those veterans suffering from PTSD were 11% more likely to develop dementia over the 7 year period of the study. Comparatively, those veterans not suffering from PTSD had only a 7% chance of developing dementia. Once researchers eliminated all other risk factors associated with developing Alzheimer’s, they concluded veterans suffering from PTSD were developing dementia at a 77% higher rate than those veterans not suffering from PTSD.
It is very common for people suffering from PTSD to cycle in and out of symptoms. This is why it is so critical to determine if there is a link between the two. The earlier these types of links can be determined, the more likely it is to actively treat the situation before it presents itself.
Learn more about how PTSD has been potentially linked to dementia and just what the study means.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact Veterans Help Group. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.