PTSD and surgery mortality rates

Today I begin “Counseling & Physiology”, a crash course (6 weeks!) for my students to explore the mind/body connections and how counselors pay attention to the body even if not their primary focus.

Last week I saw this news item on my feed: “Veterans with PTSD twice as likely to die after surgery”

Here are some of the highlights from a research study done at the San Francisco VA and UC San Francisco:

  1. 10 year retrospective study of 1792 vets (ending in 2008). 7.8% had established dx of PTSD. On average vets with PTSD were 7 years younger than those without the diagnosis (you would think then, younger = higher survival rates). Surgeries studied were elective surgeries.
  2. 25% increase in mortality 1 year post surgery for vets with PTSD, even if surgery happens years after getting out of the service
  3. Mortality rates for these vets were higher than those with Diabetes
  4. PTSD is an independent risk factor for mortality
  5. DX of PTSD was associated with increased cardiac issues (may point to why the mortality rates are higher

Sobering research if you ask me. Let us not become lazy in our thinking. Emotional problems such as severe depression and anxiety (which PTSD tends to bring both together) have a substantial impact on the entire person, affecting every part of the person from cells to spirit. Neither let us believe that if the cells are involved in such a disorder that there is nothing that counselors can do. Clients can learn to manage and even defeat some of the symptoms of PTSD by taking control of their thought life.


Filed under Anxiety, counseling, counseling science, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Psychology

2 responses to “PTSD and surgery mortality rates

  1. Tracy Irvin

    Hi Dr. Monroe,
    I am wondering where I can read some materials on PTSD, and how to counsel those who have been dxed with it biblically. I was intrigued with your last comment
    ‘Clients can learn to manage and even defeat some of the symptoms of PTSD by taking control of their thought life.”
    Enjoy reading your blog.
    Tracy Irvin

  2. After 25 years of working with Trauma survivors (especially those sexually abused in their youth), I wrote in 1990 a book: From Shame to Peace T.J. van der Weele M.A, still available at Amazon in English.
    (In German, French, Dutch, Arabic and Finish available from me at about $25.-), where the attention to what God has already done is strengthened though Blessing. It is a very gentle approach, using my cross-cultural work experience to enter into each individual adjusted ´culture´of the survivor where I come as a learner, rather then as a specialist.

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