A research team led by former APA President Dilip Jeste, M.D., the Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at the University of California at San Diego reviewed over 60 PTSD studies that assessed some aging-related process. They found multiple lines of evidence connecting PTSD with age-related biomarkers or health conditions.
For example, the studies consistently showed that people with PTSD had shorter telomeres—segments on the ends of chromosomes that are a measure of cellular age—than healthy counterparts, as well as higher levels of chemicals associated with inflammation. Also, people with PTSD showed higher rates of diseases associated with aging, including heart disease, diabetes, and dementia.
More studies will be needed to clarify the relationship between PTSD and aging, but this work does suggest that PTSD therapies should encompass a more integrated physical-psychiatric strategy.
Jeste is the co-editor of the new book Positive Psychiatry: A Clinical Handbook, published by American Psychiatric Publishing.