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Top Labs To Run Bi-Annually On Your Patients Who Suffer From Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

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Top Labs To Run Bi-Annually On Your Patients Who Suffer From Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can feel like you're constantly on edge, waiting for the next moment that'll send you spiraling into anxiety or flashbacks. It's tough, affecting your day-to-day life, your work, and your relationships. According to statistics, between 61% to 80% of people will experience a traumatic event at some point in their lives.

In this article, we'll talk about what PTSD is, what can cause it, its common symptoms, and why regular lab tests can be incredibly helpful for managing this condition.


What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

PTSD is a mental health condition that arises after an individual has been exposed to an intensely distressing event or series of events. These events can range from life-threatening situations like warfare and natural disasters to emotionally shocking experiences like the sudden loss of a loved one. 

While it's natural to feel heightened stress or fear during and after such incidents, what distinguishes PTSD is the body's prolonged "fight-or-flight" response. This means that even when the event has passed, the individual still experiences elevated levels of stress hormones, increased heart rate, and heightened alertness that do not subside easily (1). 

One of the most challenging aspects of PTSD is its persistent and intrusive symptoms, which can significantly impair one's quality of life. Individuals may encounter vivid memories, flashbacks, or nightmares that force them to relive the traumatic experience. The condition may also lead to the avoidance of locations or activities that serve as reminders of the trauma (1,2). 

Alongside these symptoms, one may also deal with a range of cognitive and mood-related issues like difficulty focusing, memory lapses, and excessive guilt—sometimes linked to surviving an event where others did not. This ongoing stress and emotional toll often disrupt various aspects of daily functioning, including work, relationships, and overall well-being (1,2).    

What Causes Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?  

The root causes of PTSD are complex and not yet fully understood. Nonetheless, it's believed that a mixture of neurobiological elements, individual characteristics, and various risk factors play a role in the onset of the condition. A key point to remember is that while many people will experience some form of trauma in their lives, not everyone will go on to develop PTSD (1,2). 

Certain risk factors do increase the likelihood, such as the nature, intensity, and duration of the traumatic event itself. Other personal factors—like age, gender, race, and overall stress levels following the event—also come into play. Specific pre-existing conditions, such as previous exposure to trauma, a history of mental illness, lower socioeconomic status, or lack of social support, can heighten the risk as well (1,2).  

Intentional trauma, like targeted attacks, has been shown to be more strongly correlated with the development of PTSD compared to accidental or non-assaultive traumatic events. The length of time exposed to the traumatic situation also plays a significant role in determining the risk of developing PTSD. Interestingly, while females are generally twice as likely as males to develop PTSD when factoring in exposure to traumatic events, the rates are comparable between genders for incidents like accidents, natural disasters, or the sudden loss of a loved one. On a positive note, there are resilience factors that can help mitigate the risk of developing PTSD, such as strong support networks, effective coping mechanisms, and maintaining a positive self-view despite the challenges faced (1,2).  

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Symptoms

Experiencing PTSD is an individual and complex emotional journey. Symptoms often manifest soon after the traumatic incident but can also appear months or even years later. The symptoms can fluctuate over time and may significantly impact daily life (1,2).   

Common Symptoms of PTSD:

  • Re-experiencing symptoms: Individuals may experience recurring, vivid memories, nightmares, and flashbacks that make them feel as though they are reliving the traumatic event.
  • Avoidance of reminders: This can manifest as staying away from certain people, places, or situations that evoke memories of the traumatic experience. For example, avoiding driving after a severe car accident is common.
  • Negative thoughts and feelings: PTSD can alter how you perceive yourself and the world around you, leading to persistent feelings of guilt, shame, and difficulty in trusting others.
  • Hyperarousal: Individuals often feel perpetually alert, making it difficult to sleep, concentrate, or even carry out day-to-day activities. Some may resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms like substance abuse.

In terms of diagnostic criteria, the DSM-5 outlines specific guidelines to diagnose PTSD, including various forms of exposure to trauma, intrusion symptoms such as recurring thoughts and nightmares, avoidance behaviors, negative mood alterations, and changes in arousal and reactivity like irritability and hypervigilance. Symptoms must last for more than one month and cause significant functional impairment to be formally diagnosed as PTSD. It's also critical to rule out the impact of substance use, medication, or another medical condition as the root cause of these symptoms (1,2).  

What Are The Benefits of Regular Lab Testing For Patients With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Regular lab testing serves as an invaluable tool for both healthcare providers and patients in managing PTSD. Given the complex interplay of neurobiological, risk, and individual factors contributing to PTSD, lab tests can help provide a comprehensive understanding of a patient's physiological state (1,2). 

For instance, checking hormone levels and inflammatory markers can give insights into stress responses and body inflammation, which are known to exacerbate PTSD symptoms. These evaluations can be particularly helpful in a functional medicine setting, where the objective is to address the root causes rather than just the symptoms. By doing so, healthcare providers can tailor more effective and individualized treatment plans, such as targeted supplementation (1,2). 

Regular monitoring through bi-annual lab tests can also facilitate better long-term outcomes for PTSD patients. For example, it can track the efficacy of current treatment protocols, making it easier to adapt and modify them as needed. This is particularly important given that PTSD symptoms can fluctuate over time and may be impacted by various lifestyle and environmental factors (1,2). 

Consistent lab testing allows for early detection of changes in biomarkers, offering the opportunity to preemptively adjust treatment before symptoms worsen. Overall, integrating regular lab testing into the treatment strategy enhances the healthcare provider's ability to provide holistic and responsive care, greatly benefiting the patient's overall health (1,2). 

Top Labs To Run Bi-Annually On Patients With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Functional medicine labs offer a variety of tests that can help tailor treatment to patients, allowing providers to optimize management strategies.

Cortisol Testing

Monitoring cortisol, the "stress hormone," can offer valuable insights into how a patient's body responds to stress, which is a key element in PTSD. Elevated cortisol levels could indicate heightened stress and anxiety, potentially warranting a review or modification of the current treatment plan.

C-Reactive Protein

Given that PTSD has neurobiological underpinnings, it may be associated with systemic inflammation. A CRP test can serve as a marker for inflammation and may help in tailoring treatments that aim to reduce inflammatory responses.

Micronutrient Testing 

Certain vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins, vitamin D, and magnesium, are known to be associated with neurological function and optimal mental health. A comprehensive micronutrient test can identify any deficiencies or imbalances in these specific nutrients.

CVD & Diabetes Prevention Essentials

Given that PTSD has been linked to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, it can be practical to run this panel in patients who have a history of or are at risk for metabolic or heart disease. The test helps measure insulin and glucose levels, among other markers, providing a comprehensive view of metabolic and cardiovascular health. 



In summary, PTSD is a severe mental health condition that significantly disrupts everyday activities and relationships. It arises from various forms of intense trauma and is characterized by long-lasting, intrusive symptoms. Given its multi-factorial roots, which involve neurobiology, individual traits, and other risk factors, a comprehensive diagnostic and therapeutic strategy is essential. 

Regular bi-annual lab tests, such as cortisol, C-reactive protein, and micronutrient levels, along with cardiovascular and metabolic panels, provide valuable data for patient management. These tests enable healthcare providers to fine-tune treatment strategies, track treatment efficacy, and detect changes in biomarkers early. This evidence-based approach aims to not just manage symptoms but to identify and address underlying physiological imbalances, contributing to more effective and lasting treatment outcomes for PTSD patients.

The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement or making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
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Lab Tests in This Article

  1. Mann, S. K., & Marwaha, R. (2022). Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PubMed; StatPearls Publishing.
  2. Complementary and Integrative Medicine Treatment Options for PTSD Patients: Testing, Integrative Therapies, and Herbs. (2023, May 12). Rupa Health.
  3. 5 Ways That Stress Affects Women’s Health. (2023, March 8). Rupa Health.
  4. A Functional Medicine Protocol for Hyper Responsiveness Adrenal Dysregulation. (2023, April 21). Rupa Health.
  5. An Integrative Medicine Approach to Agoraphobia: Testing, Nutrition, and Evidence-Based Therapies. (2023, July 25). Rupa Health.
  6. Functional Nutrition Approach to Mental Health. (2023, April 5). Rupa Health.
  7. How to Balance Cortisol Levels Naturally. (2023, February 28). Rupa Health.
  8. Quinones, M. M., Gallegos, A. M., Lin, F. V., & Heffner, K. (2020). Dysregulation of inflammation, neurobiology, and cognitive function in PTSD: an integrative review. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 20(3), 455–480.
  9. PTSD Linked to Insulin Resistance and Metabolic Syndrome, Early Markers of Heart Disease. (n.d.). American College of Cardiology.
  10. Vazquez, K. (2022, September 9). This Is How Much Magnesium You Should Take Based On Your Age. Rupa Health.
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