A study has found that those who are most able to control their stress are the ones who are least likely to report any symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
The study was conducted by Dr Francesco Brugioni and Dr Maria Della Vallejo of the University of Padua, and was published in the journal Brain and Cognition.
“Our results show that the ability to control stress is associated with a greater degree of social distancing and anxiety in patients who have suffered a traumatic event,” Dr Brugionsi said.
“The ability to social distance and anxiety is related to an increase in the expression of anxiety and stress hormones, which in turn lead to reduced levels of neuropeptide Y.”
“The results suggest that people with PTSD can be most vulnerable to social distanced anxiety and social anxiety, which is related with reduced levels in neuropeptic hormone.”
The study also found that patients who were the least able to social withdraw were also least likely for fear to be reported.
“We found that people who were most able and able to socially distance, which has been shown to be associated with increased levels of anxiety, were less likely to be reporting any symptoms,” Dr Della Vallejo said.
The researchers believe the findings could be of interest to mental health professionals who are in the process of dealing with patients who are experiencing trauma and who are suffering from anxiety.
“People are very afraid to say something because it will make their symptoms worse, so we need to find ways to help people manage their anxiety and cope with stress,” Dr Vallejos said.
Dr Brugionali said he was particularly interested in understanding the links between PTSD and social distances, as well as whether it could be linked to anxiety and depression.
“This research is particularly interesting as it’s the first study to show that PTSD affects social distance, but we haven’t yet understood the mechanism by which that might be related to anxiety,” he said.
“We also don’t know whether there is a relationship between social distancings and depression or anxiety.
We are interested in whether there are similar relationships in other domains.”
The researchers are now working on a study looking at the impact of stress and anxiety on people’s ability to manage stress.
Dr Bungioni said his research would not be complete until 2021, but hopes that by that time, patients will have more knowledge of the links and how to manage them.
“My hope is that this will be a way to better understand the relationship between stress and social isolation, so that clinicians and patients can better manage the stress that they are experiencing,” he explained.
“I hope that by 2021, we can start to develop new treatments for PTSD and anxiety that can better help people cope with the effects of their trauma.”