PTSD Patients Six Times More at Risk of Committing Suicide

Recent findings from the University at South Carolina show that patients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, have elevated levels of irritation and tenderness that are caused by increases in certain cells regulating the immune system. The study also showed a correlation between PTSD and immune systems that were compromised in veterans of war who were diagnosed with the disorder.

Dr. Prakash Nagarkatti, at USC School of Medicine, was the head researcher on the study and found that these patients are six times more likely to commit suicide, which costs the U.S. a yearly loss of about $3 billion. His findings are the foundation of a nearly $2 million grant to help him along with a team of colleagues increase their research regarding war veterans experiencing PTSD and are published in a study in The T and D.

Nagarkatti says the results are noteworthy as they will help with methods for further diagnosis and new treatments. Over 35 percent of returning veterans from the war in Afghanistan and Iraq have been diagnosed with mental disorders and the most common are PTSD. Nagarkatti says that about 30 percent of war veterans from Vietnam were diagnosed with PTSD during the war, or soon thereafter. Researchers will be analyzing the effects of these traumatic experiences to see if PTSD victims experience changes to the cells in their immune systems. The doctor pointed out, that since the nervous and immune systems are so interrelated with one another, dysfunction in one of them can harshly impact the other, which leads to the beginning of disorders related to PTSD.

Nagarkatti’s team of researchers is now beginning to study the function of epigenetics, which is a research area that is growing in interest among researchers. Preliminary evidence shows there may be factors such as diet, contact with toxins and disturbing events that influence changes in genetics.