Evidence for PTSD as a Systemic Disorder

  • Avram BukhbinderEmail author
  • Paul E. Schulz
Reference work entry


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has a prevalence of 6.8 % among the American population and an even greater prevalence among combat veterans. The conventional view of PTSD has been as a psychological adjustment disorder characterized by depression and anxiety in response to stressful circumstances. Recently, however, it has become apparent that it is much more than a psychological adjustment disorder. This began with the appreciation of the fact that dementia is much more common in PTSD, suggesting neurological changes in the disorder. There is now evidence for psychiatric changes (e.g., mood disorders, substance use and abuse), cardiovascular changes, autoimmune changes (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis), tumorigenic changes, etc. The goal of this chapter is to briefly review the evidence for systemic involvement in preparation for subsequent chapters that will focus on detailed discussions of each organ system.


PTSD Systemic Neurologic Cardiac Respiratory Physiological Behavioral 

List of Abbreviations


Alcohol abuse


Alcohol dependency


Corticotropin releasing hormone


Cerebrospinal fluid


Deoxyribonucleic acid


Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders


Free triiodothyronine


Free thyroxine






Heart rate


Major depressive disorder


Post-traumatic stress disorder


Protein-bound triiodothyronine


Protein-bound thyroxine


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UTHealth Department of NeurologyNeurocognitive Disorders CenterHoustonUSA

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