The Connection Between PTSD and Diabetes

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Are posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and diabetes connected in some way? PTSD has been found to be associated with numerous different physical health problems such as heart, respiratory, digestive, and reproductory problems and disease. In addition, PTSD has also been found to be related to diabetes.

PTSD and Diabetes

Studies have found that individuals with PTSD are more likely to have diabetes. The unhealthy behaviors often associated with PTSD (for example, smoking, substance use, poor eating habits) may place a person at risk for developing diabetes.

Among people with diabetes, the PTSD-related stress and unhealthy behaviors may negatively impact the course of a person's diabetes.

Specific Health Problems Among People With PTSD and Diabetes

Researchers at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University and the VA Medical Center in Syracuse, New York, examined the specific health-related problems among people with both PTSD and diabetes. They identified 14,438 military veterans with diabetes and looked at whether or not the veterans had PTSD, depression, or other psychiatric diagnoses.

Participants were divided into different groups: people with depression and PTSD, people with PTSD but not depression, people with depression but not PTSD, people with other psychiatric diagnoses besides PTSD and depression, and people without any psychiatric diagnoses. Across these different groups, they then examined differences on a number of different health-related factors, such as glycemic control, cholesterol levels (total cholesterol, LDL, and HDL), triglycerides, weight, body mass index (BMI).

The researchers found that compared to other groups, people with both PTSD and depression:

  • Had worse total cholesterol levels and LDL
  • Weighed more
  • Had a higher BMI

People with depression had poorer glycemic control.

Improving Your Physical and Mental Health

PTSD and related conditions such as depression can have a major impact on a person's health, and people with a pre-existing medical condition such as diabetes, who have PTSD and/or depression, may be particularly at risk for health problems. If you have diabetes and PTSD, make sure that you take steps to effectively manage your diabetes in addition to getting treatment for your PTSD.

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3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Pacella ML, Hruska B, Delahanty DL. The physical health consequences of PTSD and PTSD symptoms: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Anxiety Disorders. 2013;27(1). doi:10.1016/j.janxdis.2012.08.004

  2. Van den Berk-Clark C, Secrest S, Walls J, et al. Association between posttraumatic stress disorder and lack of exercise, poor diet, obesity, and co-occuring smoking: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Health Psychology. 2018;37(5). doi:10.1037/hea0000593

  3. Trief PM, Ouimette P, Wade M, Shanahan P, Weinstock RS. Post-traumatic stress disorder and diabetes: Co-Morbidity and outcomes in a male veteran sample. Journal of Behavioral Medicine. 2006;29(5). doi:10.1007/s10865-006-9067-2

Additional Reading
  • Goodwin, R.D., & Davidson, J.R. (2005). Self-reported diabetes and posttraumatic stress disorder among adults in the community. Preventive Medicine, 40, 570-574.
  • Green, B.L., & Kimerling, R. (2004). Trauma, PTSD, and health status. In P.P. Schurr & B.L. Green (Eds.), Physical health consequences of exposure to extreme stress (pp. 13-42). Washington DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Trief, P.M., Ouimette, P., Wade, M., Shanahan, P., & Weinstock, R.S. (2006). Post-traumatic stress disorder and diabetes: Co-morbidity and outcomes in a male veterans sample. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 29, 411-418.
  • Weisberg, R.B., Bruce, S.E., Machan, J.T., Kessler, R.C., Culpepper, L., & Keller, M.B. (2002). Nonpsychiatric illness among primary care patients with trauma histories and posttraumatic stress disorder. Psychiatric Services, 53, 848-854.