PTSD in women may lead to food addiction
New research published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry suggests that women who have experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of a traumatic event may be at a higher risk of having a food addiction.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota looked at more than 49,000 female nurses ages 25 to 42 and asked the women whether they had ever experienced a traumatic event, such as childhood abuse, the violent death of a loved one, or a miscarriage or stillbirth. They then asked the women who had experienced such an event whether they had also developed PTSD symptoms as a result of the trauma. Participants were also asked whether they experienced symptoms of food addiction, such as frequently eating when they were not hungry, feeling sluggish or fatigued from overeating and having physical withdrawal symptoms when they cut down on certain foods.
The results showed that 66 percent of those who had experienced a traumatic event reported at least one symptom of PTSD, and that 8 percent of all women in the study had food addiction. However, the highest percentage of women with a food addiction was found with women who had PTSD symptoms. Nearly 18 percent of women with six to seven symptoms of PTSD had food addiction, compared to 6 percent of women who had no PTSD symptoms during their lifetime.
The researchers believe the link between food addiction and PTSD is the strongest because people with PTSD may use eating to cope with psychological distress.