Depression, trauma stress linked to physical complaints

November 01, 2003

Trauma victims who showed immediate signs of both depression and post-traumatic stress disorder are more likely to have psychosomatic ailments a year later, according to a new study.

The combination of both afflictions increases the incidence of somatic complaints, although this is not the case for either condition standing alone, say Douglas F. Zatzick, M.D., and colleagues from the University of Washington School of Medicine. Psychosomatic symptoms are physical complaints that cannot be medically explained.

The research findings appear in the November-December issue of the journal Psychosomatics.

Each year, about 2.6 million Americans require hospitalization after suffering traumatic physical injuries. Between 10 percent and 40 percent experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the year following injury, says Zatzick.

Zatzick and colleagues interviewed 73 randomly selected patients who agreed to be tested. The patients were hospitalized after emergency trauma surgery for intentional and unintentional injuries. Researchers tested them for physical symptoms, post-traumatic stress symptoms and depressive symptoms.

They also recorded the severity of injuries, the part of the body injured and other medical conditions that might have affected recovery.

While in the surgical ward, 31 percent of the patients scored high enough for a PTSD diagnosis and 42 percent had high depressive scores. A year later, those patients who had both higher depression and higher PTSD reported significantly higher levels of physical distress that could not be attributed to medical conditions. Women were also more likely than men to report such symptoms.

These patients also had used the health care system heavily in the subsequent 12 months but less often for their psychological well-being.

Knowing which patients had symptoms of PTSD and depression in the inpatient surgical unit and other acute care settings such as the emergency room might stimulate treatment and lessen the occurrence of future psychosomatic symptoms, the researchers suggest.

"The discussion of symptoms with pragmatically oriented trauma center providers may facilitate early mental health screening and intervention procedures targeting the complexity of PTSD and depression, and somatic amplification," Zatzick says. "Similarly, mental health professionals working in the acute care medical setting may be able to identify patients who are amplifying somatic complaints."
-end-
Aaron Levin, Science Writer

The National Institute of Mental Health provided funding for this project.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Health Behavior News Service: 202-387-2829 or www.hbns.org.
Interviews: Contact Douglas F. Zatzick, M.D. 206-341-4209 or dzatzick@u.Washington.edu.
Psychosomatics: Contact Tom Wise, M.D., at 703-698-3626.

Center for Advancing Health

Related Depression Articles from Brightsurf:

Children with social anxiety, maternal history of depression more likely to develop depression
Although researchers have known for decades that depression runs in families, new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York, suggests that children suffering from social anxiety may be at particular risk for depression in the future.

Depression and use of marijuana among US adults
This study examined the association of depression with cannabis use among US adults and the trends for this association from 2005 to 2016.

Maternal depression increases odds of depression in offspring, study shows
Depression in mothers during and after pregnancy increased the odds of depression in offspring during adolescence and adulthood by 70%.

Targeting depression: Researchers ID symptom-specific targets for treatment of depression
For the first time, physician-scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have identified two clusters of depressive symptoms that responded to two distinct neuroanatomical treatment targets in patients who underwent transcranial magnetic brain stimulation (TMS) for treatment of depression.

A biological mechanism for depression
Researchers report that in depressed individuals there are increased amounts of an unmodified structural protein, called tubulin, in lipid rafts compared with non-depressed individuals.

Depression in adults who are overweight or obese
In an analysis of primary care records of 519,513 UK adults who were overweight or obese between 2000-2016 and followed up until 2019, the incidence of new cases of depression was 92 per 10,000 people per year.

Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.

Which comes first: Smartphone dependency or depression?
New research suggests a person's reliance on his or her smartphone predicts greater loneliness and depressive symptoms, as opposed to the other way around.

Depression breakthrough
Major depressive disorder -- referred to colloquially as the 'black dog' -- has been identified as a genetic cause for 20 distinct diseases, providing vital information to help detect and manage high rates of physical illnesses in people diagnosed with depression.

CPAP provides relief from depression
Researchers have found that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can improve depression symptoms in patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

Read More: Depression News and Depression Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.