What causes post-traumatic stress disorder? Based on what you know, or have heard, your answer might be something like rape, war, or even health-related incidences like heart attacks or giving birth. But according to a new study by Business and Social Sciences at Aarhus University, there might be an underlying cause to PTSD that has nothing to do with war or death: mental illness.
The research, which is set to be published in the academic journal Psychological Science
, suggests that many of the soldiers who end up showing symptoms of PTSD were already suffering from poor mental health, even before they went off to war. Details of the Study
The results are hard to ignore. Almost 750 Danish soldiers took part in this large-scale survey, and were asked to complete a questionnaire five times: before being sent to the battlegrounds, during their time in Afghanistan, and three times after returning to their home country. While most of the soldiers in the survey were resistant to change and did not become affected by everyday situations (this group was termed as “robust”), about five percent of the soldiers seemed
to be robust initially, yet experienced a deteriorating mental state once they began fighting and did not recover after coming home.
True, they may have had worse battle experiences than their robust counterparts; but the study’s lead author Dorthe Berntsen instead believes that those five percent of soldiers were predisposed to suffering from PTSD because of prior traumas that occurred in their childhoods. Bad vs. Good Memories
Everyone experiences pleasant involuntary recollections every day. These involuntary recalls are memories that force themselves into the forefront of our consciousness and make us remember seemingly random, yet positive, things from the past. But soldiers and other victims of PTSD suffer from malicious, dysfunctional intrusive involuntary recollections that can cause unwanted flash-backs, mood swings, and intense stress. These are negative thoughts, memories and experiences that continue to force themselves into the minds of PTSD patients, and can sometimes be severe enough to disable the individual. After enough exposure, the patient can start to lose confidence, and thus the slippery slope into the worst of post-traumatic stress disorder can begin.
The study does have a happy ending, however. The troops who took part in the survey were very pleased that there was an interest in their welfare and wellbeing, and were glad to have helped further PTSD research. Berntsen and team hope that these findings show yet another dimension to the already-vast scope of PTSD, which can result in newer ways to target and treat the disorder. Cited Sources
"War Is Not Necessarily the Cause of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder." ScienceDaily.com
. ScienceDaily, 17 Aug. 2012. Web. 31 Aug. 2012. <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120817135532.htm>.
"Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder." Military.com
. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2012. <http://www.military.com/benefits/veterans-health-care/posttraumatic-stress-disorder-overview.html>.