Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Traumatic Stress Disorder, Dementia Linked In WWII Vets

Date:
January 14, 2000
Source:
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Summary:
For World War II and Korean War veterans who develop dementia as they age, there's a risk that painful war memories may be unlocked, triggering violent episodes of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), reports Dr. Deirdre Johnston of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in January's issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - For World War II and Korean War veterans who develop dementia as they age, there's a risk that painful war memories may be unlocked, triggering violent episodes of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), reports Dr. Deirdre Johnston of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in January's issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. "In appears that some veterans are able to suppress their war memories and function quite normally for most of their lives," said Johnston, assistant professor of psychiatry. "But, with the onset of dementia, the ability to manage the traumatic memories can be lost, which can give rise to violent outbursts that can threaten spouses or caregivers."

Johnston said PTSD symptoms can appear for the first time with the onset of dementia or re-appear after years of "managing" the memories. Johnston - the first to report the possible link - said more research is needed because of the large number of war veterans who are at risk of developing dementia.

"There are about 600,000 war veterans older than 65 who are at risk of developing dementia," said Johnston. "We need to learn how frequently dementia and PTSD occur together and find out how the ability to manage these distant memories breaks down as dementia develops."

Johnston, who has seen numerous examples of the phenomenon in Veterans Administration treatment centers and other settings, reported on three cases in the article. In one, a 78-year-old combat veteran attempted to strangle his wife in her sleep. On an earlier occasion, she was awakened by him shooting at the bedroom drapes, which he believed were assailants. Another veteran, 77-years-old, without any prior history of aggression towards his wife, piled furniture in the living room to create a fort and ambushed her when she returned from the grocery store. He shot her five times with a .22 caliber rifle.

The third veteran, 68-years-old, would call out in his sleep, "We're under attack." At times, we would wake his wife by calling out from behind the bed, "Get down, get down, we're under fire." He began to keep a loaded gun under the bed. In each case, the veterans showed no signs of violence until they developed dementia.

PTSD has been recognized in combat veterans, ex-prisoners of war, disaster survivors and survivors of sexual and physical abuse. It can occur when someone experiences or witnesses a life-threatening or dangerous situation and feels intense horror, fear or helplessness. People with PTSD avoid things that remind them of the trauma. Their symptoms can include anxiety, restlessness, disturbed sleep, nightmares, irritability, outbursts of anger and hostile behavior. Though PTSD has been studied extensively in Vietnam War veterans, there is evidence it is under-diagnosed in WWII veterans. One study indicates that serving in combat increases the likelihood of PTSD; veterans exposed to heavy combat were found to have a 13 times greater risk of having PTSD than non-combat veterans after 45 years.

"The evidence suggests that many of the individuals who served in combat are likely to have dormant or partially controlled PTSD," said Johnston. "It is of pressing importance to explore the relationship between PTSD and dementia in this aging population."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. "Traumatic Stress Disorder, Dementia Linked In WWII Vets." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 January 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000113233143.htm>.
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. (2000, January 14). Traumatic Stress Disorder, Dementia Linked In WWII Vets. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000113233143.htm
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. "Traumatic Stress Disorder, Dementia Linked In WWII Vets." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000113233143.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A study suggests that parents become desensitized to violent movies as well as children, which leads them to allow their kids to view violent films. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins