PsyPost: Why were you interested in this topic?
Dunkley: We were interested in this topic because PTSD is still very much seen as an ‘invisible injury’ and a huge burden on the sufferer and military healthcare system (as well, of course, all healthcare systems). By ‘invisible injury’, I mean that there is often no overt sign that someone has this disorder, and many people with the illness suffer in silence, and feel like they are to blame for their symptoms and some of the problems that come with them. We wanted to show that the disorder has a physical, biological basis, much like any other physical illness we might think of. There has been a lot of work in this area over the past 10-15 years, and we wanted to contribute to that area of research.
It’s interesting to think that there are physical signs of something like PTSD, as it lends credence to the idea that yes, this is actually a disease, but I do worry that looking for physical symptoms of some mental health issues will lead to further stigma for issues where none is found. (Which should never be the case, suffering is suffering, and should be dealt with as such, whether there is a physical symptom or not.)
On the other hand, if PTSD can be diagnosed and treated properly because of this research, then that is definitely a good thing.