Women who experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.
The study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, looked at data from 49,739 women who participated in the Nurses' Health Study II. The researchers analyzed the link between type 2 diabetes and PTSD symptoms over 22 years. They found that women who experienced the highest levels of PTSD symptoms had double the risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
The researchers also found a link between antidepressant use and type 2 diabetes. Some antidepressants are known to cause weight gain, Time notes, but that fact alone "cannot account for all of the effect." Karestan Koenen, an epidemiology professor at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and author of the study, told Time that the antidepressant link is "one of the most interesting findings" from the research.
The link may be due to changes in women's immune systems after experiencing the extreme stress associated with PTSD, the researchers note. Koenen hopes that the study will encourage the medical realm to view mental and physical health as interrelated, rather than "two separate things."