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An elevated level of a white blood cell count can indicate a major infection or a serious blood disorder such as leukemia. Now it is thought that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be just as good of an indicator of a person’s long term health status.

Joseph Boscarino, PhD, MPH, Geisinger Senior Investigator, examined the health status of 4,462 male Vietnam era veterans 30 years after their military service. He found that PTSD predisposes a person to biological risk factors that are not measured with psychological test or a mental health examination. Boscarino found that veterans with high erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)–an indicator of inflammation–could be an indicator of serious neuroendocrine problems.

Boscarino believes that early treatment after a traumatic event is critical to avoid depression, PTSD, and substance abuse-related problems that can result from a traumatic experience.