Stress and PTSD could be causing autoimmune disease.



Hello, this is Dr. David Bilstrom from the International Autoimmune Institute and the Autoimmune Lifestyle, and we’re here today for “Did You Know?” and today is about stress reactions, post-traumatic stress disorder, and subsequent autoimmune disease development.

The clinical case today is you are, female, medical practitioner. You’re in your mid-thirties. You have two small children. One was celiac disease already, and a mother with rheumatoid arthritis. A patient comes in to see you, a female patient, and she doesn’t have an autoimmune disease, but she does have autoimmune disease running in her family, and she’s got two small children and she tells you about that she has PTSD and she’s had some difficult times in her life, and now you’re thinking..

“Well, you know, this is interesting because I just read a really impressive article and it really applied to me as a practitioner and as a person, because here I am as a medical practitioner. When I was in college, I was assaulted and I’ve noticed over the years is every time I’m in a similar situation, my heart starts to race. I get kind of anxious, get a little sweaty and you know, it’s not huge, but it always happens.”

Well, then you read this article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 2018 entitled “Association of Stress-Related Disorders With Subsequent Autoimmune Disease.” And they talked about people that have had PTSD. Let’s see how they put it and acute stress reaction. You’ve been assaulted, a life-threatening situation, that’s that. And then adjustment disorder where things have happened, complications in your life, and subsequently you end up with like anxiety and depression and maybe panic attacks and insomnia and these kinds of things so you’re reading this and you go, “Holy cow, I have PTSD, you know, this repeated similar situation, I get these symptoms that’s actually PTSD.” And what they saw in the study. It’s a Swedish study.

They did it for like 45 years and they had over 100,000 people with stress-related disorders, 100,000 people without stress-related events, and then brothers or sisters of the people with stress-related disorders. And they followed them for many, many decades, and they watched who got autoimmune disease. Well, as it turns out, if you have any of these stress-related disorders, you have about a 50% chance, higher chance than your sibling or other people without these reactions and getting these autoimmune diseases. And they followed, you know, way more than 40 autoimmune diseases and they got them. The earlier you had the stress reaction, the more likely you are to have the autoimmune disease.

With PTSD, you have a 50% chance basically compared to anybody else, but also you have almost a three times greater chance at getting multiple, three or more autoimmune diseases if you’ve had a post-traumatic stress disorder. So here’s this patient and she comes in and she’s had a hard life, “I guess I think I got PTSD.” You know, “I was assaulted as well and I have autoimmune disease running my family, and I really don’t wanna get an autoimmune disease, but I don’t really have an autoimmune disease myself,” and you get to tell her, “Well, as a matter of fact, we really wanna do some due diligence here, and we’re going to help prevent you from getting autoimmune disease because when you get these stress-related disorders, you’re at such a much higher level of getting an autoimmune disease. We know how to prevent that, and we know that these kinds of things drive all chronic diseases. So we’re going to really help you make sure that these traumatic events in your life and potentially the current PTSD that you have is not gonna turn into an autoimmune disease, even though 50 million Americans have them.” Thank you very much.

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