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J Nerv Ment Dis. 2012 May;200(5):423-8. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e318253229e.

Somatic diseases in child survivors of the Holocaust with posttraumatic stress disorder: a comparative study.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital of Erlangen, Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany.


The incidence of mental and somatic sequelae has been shown to be very high in people who survived the Holocaust. In the current study, 80 Holocaust survivors with posttraumatic stress disorder were examined based on evaluation of their complete record (medical reports, clinical history, medical statements, and handwritten declarations of patients under oath). These survivors were compared with subjects with posttraumatic stress disorder caused by traumata other than the Holocaust. The data were analyzed for the presence of cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and orthopedic diseases that developed in the time between the earliest medical report (expert opinion) and the latest expert opinion. Analysis revealed an increase in myocardial infarction, chronic degenerative diseases, and cancerous changes in the second expert opinion. No differences between the groups were seen with regard to sex, age at traumatization, or age at examination. Several implications of the data are discussed, including the implication that the survivors examined in this study may comprise a highly resilient group, inasmuch as they had reached an advanced age.

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