A study from the University of Utah sheds new light on the health risks faced not only by military veterans with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but by their partners as well. Results of the study will be presented later this month at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society.
The study compared emotional and physiological responses of two groups of military veterans and their partners during and after engaging in a “disagreement task” set in a clinically-monitored environment. The veterans in one group had been diagnosed with PTSD, and those in the control group had not.
According to the researchers, the most remarkable finding was that the partners of veterans with PTSD showed even greater increases in blood pressure during conflict than the veterans with PTSD themselves, suggesting that these partners may be at similar, if not greater, risk for health consequences from relationship conflict and PTSD as the veterans.
Although prior research has documented greater cardiovascular reactivity to general stressors and higher levels of anger in veterans with PTSD, this is the first study to report such physiological and anger responses to intimate relationship conflict for veterans, as well as their partners. An important finding was that female partners of male veterans who had been diagnosed with PTSD suffered not only from general psychological distress, but also exhibited more negative emotional and physical effects from relationship conflict, including significant increases in measurements of blood pressure and anger.
Read the UNews release here.