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PTSD and Physical Health Problems

Overview

When you have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you may have physical symptoms that have no obvious cause. PTSD also may raise your risk of having other medical conditions.1

Having other conditions like depression or anxiety with PTSD also may result in having more physical symptoms.1

Physical health problems and mental illness can occur together in a number of ways:

  • Medicine used to treat a health problem may lead to a mental illness, such as depression, or make it worse. For example, depression can be a side effect of some drugs.
  • Health problems and mental illness may have a common cause, such as stress.
  • Health problems and mental illness can bring a sense of loss. You may feel that your life isn't the same as it was before you got sick.
  • Health problems can change the quality of your life. You may go through changes at work or at home. For example, a sickness may cause you to lose your job, which can cause stress. This added stress could make your PTSD symptoms worse.
  • Mental health problems can cause physical health problems and vice versa.

When you have a physical illness and a mental illness, it can be much harder to cope. Being sick can impact every area of your life. It can change how you think and feel about yourself and your relationships. It may affect your ability to work and enjoy life.

It's possible that your mental illness and health problems aren't related. If you have PTSD and also get sick, this doesn't always mean PTSD is the cause of your sickness.

Getting the right treatments for PTSD and other health conditions is the best thing you can do. Talk with your doctor and your family about how you can cope with your health problems.

For more information, see the topic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Janowski K (2011). PTSD and physical health. A National Center for PTSD fact sheet. Available online: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/pages/ptsd-physical-health.asp.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Jessica Hamblen, PhD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Current as of January 9, 2013

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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