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On a recent trip to my dad's neuro doctor the doctor said that they believe that some of the dementias & alz could be caused by traumatic childhood experiences. I was shocked, as this is the first I had heard of this. Has anyone else heard anything like this from a health care professional?

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Actually, depression is linked to heart disease. PTSD was not an "illness" in WWII, Korean and Vietnam veterans until about the 1980s so my feeling is that when a name is put to something one cannot explain readily, then numerous symptoms and diseases become related. I don't spend my days wondering why my husband has dementia, I just am relieved he is still with me and able to do his ADLs (with some prompting). He forgets when he showered last...He is much more likely to die with pneumonia, COPD or the two pulmonary clots, but each day is a blessing more or less. I've mentioned before I am a Mayo Clinic research subject since my mother's family had dementia 9 out of 10 children. My MRI shows a "normal" brain and I get tested every two years, so it is NOT a definite those of you with relatives with dementia will get it. Take good care of yourself though...
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I have not heard this, however the way the brain works still seems to be somewhat of a mystery. Although we've made great strides in understanding the brain, there are still things researchers do not fully understand. I would imagine there could be an indirect link. One never knows.
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I hear those of you that speak of the trauma of war that their dad's experienced and I must point out that you are able to relay those experiences because your loved one shared them with you and / or others. What about the ones that never shared those horrific experiences?
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With regard to war trauma - I share impressions I've heard over years, with respect - there has been lots of research that showed that those who fought in wars up to WW2, experienced much less trauma, than those fighting in later wars. All war is horrible, and surely no one returns home just the same as they left. But in the first World Wars, the society as a whole was behind the effort, seeing such action as necessary and heroic, Returning US forces were praised and welcome.

In later wars, farther away in more unfamiiar territory, Korea I think, certainly Vietnam, society began to have doubts - if WW1 was supposed to be the war that would end all wars, and WW2 was entered reluctantly at the end, to help with a horrible victimization within familiar European countries, and a response to Japan's action. It was short, seen to end in victory, so society was united in relief. Some of trauma is related to how your family and neighbors see things. In later wars, the reasons and timing were far less clear, and debates began about whether or not we should be so engaged. Those soldiers returned home not to praise and gratitude, but to frequent debates over whether or not we should have been there at all. Wondering if we were doing the right thing, makes risk of war a lot less clear, and returning home to arguments over whether or not there should even be a war - that was traumatic, a horrible way of greeting people who saw much human trauma first hand. We later learned to be more sensitive and welcome veterans home, whether we are for or against war.

But ongoing wars are debated, the methods, duration and goals far less clear. So many soldiers arrive home to a country where many just go on with their lives, and only close family notice their absence. Children who experience or witness abuse are also more traumatized when their family members do not believe them - leaving the impression that there is no-one to trust to help.

All a big topic, but having one's experience discounted by surrounding people is known to compound trauma, as is having nowhere to go for help, few who understand a sense of meaning and value. Perhaps if one has lived a long time with little understanding of one's losses and shocks, one is more upset. I've seen elders whose verbal shouts represent a sense of order that used to be familiar in their world, but the world changed, and they didn't follow.
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This does not sound like a valid cause of dementia! My Dad and Uncles lived through a lot of many traumatic WW II incidents. No signs of Alzheimer's or other dementias. I can see a traumatic head injury as a precursor, but Not a psychological
trauma.
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I am echoing Ferris's thoughts about War. My dad was one of the first marines to land on Iwo Jima and had to fight or be killed in hand to hand combat. He's 92 and and just now starting to slip on unimportant issues. Well, heck so do I :) My mom who is 90 who yes went through the horrible depression as did a lot of our parents has dementia/alz. and has for about 14 years. Her mother, my grandmother had it. Other than depression they lived a great life. I'm not a doctor or researcher so I don't know if they are related. Seeing as how it runs in my family and the stress I'm under right now I guess I'm up that creek without a paddle :)) Good Luck everyone and God Bless us all.
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Interesting concept. My now deceased MIL had Paranoid Schizophrenia. Once when I went to take her to an appointment in an old part of a large city she pointed out a falling down old house and said that's where she lived as a child with her Mom, Dad, Sisters. Then she said, "h*ll house". I asked what she meant, she said her Dad used to rape her and her sisters while they lived there. YIKES!

Since I'd never heard DH speak of a Grandpa on that side of the family I asked about him. He said he'd died when he was little, but that he was weird, "lived in the basement". Said when the family went to their house to visit the Grandma they told the little kids "don't go in the basement, never be alone with your Grandpa". That's all he knew about him.

Poor MIL was a mess later in life, seemed normal, married DH's father, had the one son, flipped out at church one day when DH was 4 years old. Stayed in a state facility 'til he was 13. Sort of in and out after that. I always wondered if her issues were from traumatic childhood, genetic, or both?
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We don't have any experience with this topic, but a quick Google search found this peer reviewed article. In summary, a team did research on a large group of mostly male veterans receiving medical care through the Department of Veterans Affairs. They found that those veterans diagnosed with PTSD were at a nearly 2-fold higher risk of developing dementia as compared with those veterans not diagnosed with PTSD.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2933793/
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I wonder also about this and my Mom. She had a lot of difficult things to work thru during her lifetime. She lost both her parents in a car accident, her gmom passed away on the day of their funeral, she suffered several miscarriages and a still birth, 2 divorces, then her close friends seemed to start dying all at once and when our Dad, and dog of 19 years passed, is when we started noticing "something was wrong with Mom". She was always very strong and independent, even through all the difficulties. But, I think that perhaps at a certain point, all the loss was too much to process. All the stresses of life, etc. It was like her brain said "enough, I'm tired". I think that too much emotional trauma can cause permanent brain damage. I mean, the brain does do things on its own to try to protect the host, too much bodily pain can trigger coma, too much psychological trauma can cause multiple personalities, etc....My Mom and I recently watched the movie "Harvey" and one of Jimmy Stewart's responses to the doctor's explanations as to one of the types of traumas we as humans experience is the trauma of being born...Jimmy said (approximately) "That's the one we never get over"....Very true and profound.
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Traumatic experiences plan a role in one's development, however, I think it is a stretch to link PTSD with dementia. My husband went through three world wars, with his first experience in the cockpit being his captain shot through the head with brains all over the cockpit windshield and he had to pilot that aircraft home by himself. Yes, he was traumatized and General May told him to get back in another plane after he had landed and continue the mission. Even genes are not a definite certainty that one will get dementia of any kind. The research is still ongoing. People believe what they want to just to make some sense of "why" one gets dementia. The process of dealing with this disease is draining enough, why be concerned about the why of the disease? Just love your loved one for the time they have remaining...
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I wish I knew more about this possible connection, my mother developed Alzheimer's and also suffered from Paranoid Schizophrenia - as a child I only knew that she was really not like other people. Life was difficult and some trauma dealt to her children. We tended to keep quiet because others saw the weirdness only from the edge. No one really looked. No one really listened. We had to live with it. Well into being an adult I finally had to admit there may be, likely was some PTSD in her children. And I have sought council for this, yet the damage never totally disappears. For about 20 yrs now I have been dealing with memory loss that isn't explained by examination. When my mother passed away I wondered .... just as I have the Type 2 Diabetes that she had with age, am I also heading towards the Alzheimer's? So I read the question above and wondered. As to Castle's reply - For the early part of my life I well connect to the feelings of being discounted .... I grew to stand up for myself and have a husband and children that "hear" me .... still, I would hate to find myself confined to the care of people and a situation that I feel don't hear me. I think it would bring out the worst in me. When I have visited friends in nursing homes I see a lot of the discounting by some family and staff. I know it's not new for the staff to hear of the complaints they can discount it as typical - yet it may well be new to the patients. So I try to listen, help as I can and acknowledge to them when nothing can be done. No one wants to be discounted or to "feel" treated as they were a piece of furniture. Also something Castle said - about the elders having a loosed tongue .... many years ago I read an article about how we age the part of the brain that inhibits behavior has less control, that it explains of how many elderly people will say things that earlier in their lives would have been unsaid or in a more polite way. I hope that like with so many things, so many possibilities of what could be a cause or a contributing factor to Alzheimer's .... we someday know. That we can someday turn it off. I think of all the civilians that have had PTSD and all of the military, it's a large pool of future patients.
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That's interesting, and I hope they pursue the research.`i don't know how to say it in the right context, but I only know from my experience, both in PTSD of childhood experiences, work with my disabled brother who also had childhood trauma and from my 20 years work with elders - I've seen Alzheimers, and many had difficulty communicating their needs through their fears of breaking convention: perhaps they were bossy in earlier years, but no one taught them to collaborate, for some of our cultures doled out rules, morals and sanctions, instead of a focus on teaching people to be kind, demand and expect kindness or realism. My vision is limited, but I've been struck by the times I've seen those with Alzheimers communicate belligerently, but are expressing a mistrust that seems not new to them, and refers to incidents in their surroundings that actually are thoughtless or unkind. One woman had been left (and agreed) at home, isolated to raise her children, while her husband was a charming fellow, worked at a local hardware type store, and was loved by his colleagues and customers. He had a habit of discounting all his wife's requests, because she whined. "oh, don't worry if she says she's cold, she always says that." Meanwhile he was wearing a sweater and she was not! Sometimes such expectations become too over-used, and someone's real needs or wishes which could be met, are dismissed. I have had the impression that the tongue is loosened, and as elders they are forgiven for arguing now, so they do it a lot. Standing up for freedom to speak one's thoughts at last! And the emotional content comes out with them! Yes, over-blown and they can't remember or reason, but they react to triggers or reminders of past triggers.
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My mom, who's been diagnosed with FTLD, had electroshock therapy at approx. age 24, per the state hospital, after being sent there by her doctor. I can't help but wonder if that could pre-disposed her brain to in some way, in regards to her current diagnosis. I would think that in and of itself, and the events leading up to that (trauma on a very personal level) could have set the course.
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I haven't heard this, but it wouldn't surprise me if PTSD could contribute in some way. The area of the brain that is a primary target of Alzheimer's -- the hippocampus -- is known to be affected by long-term exposure to elevated cortisol that is made during times of stress. It may be that anything that creates long-term stress has the ability to cause change and do damage. If that would be Alzheimer's, I don't know.
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