A Link Between Trauma and Lupus?

Over the last week or so #MeToo posts have flooded social media timelines. So many women are sharing their stories and putting a face on sexual assault and harassment, and I cannot underscore enough the bravery it takes to share an experience like that. I, like many other women I know, have had to deal with sexual harassment at the hands of a former boss. I was 19/20 and he was the executive director of the agency I worked for (and old enough to be my dad). I would later find out that I was not the only person he was doing this to at that time, and even worse there were people in positions of power who knew that this was happening and either turned a blind eye or tried to make excuses for his behavior. I know of countless stories like mine from women in all different professions. It is an epidemic and the trauma it leaves women scarred with is indescribable.

This, for me, was also happening in the time that my health was starting to fail. I hadn’t been officially diagnosed yet, but I was seeing doctors, having tests run, and making many trips to the ER; basically, it was all happening before and during the time that my lupus really started to manifest and progress. I have, from time to time, wondered if that situation could’ve somehow played a roll in me developing lupus.

Just recently I stumbled upon an article about a study, published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, on the link between traumatic events and developing lupus. The study, called “Association of Trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Incident Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in a Longitudinal Cohort of Women”, found evidence suggesting that there is a link between psychosocial trauma the development of lupus and other autoimmune diseases. The study assessed women over a 24 year period and showed that the women who had suffered trauma, with or without exhibiting symptoms of PTSD, were about three (3) times more likely to develop systemic lupus. The researchers note that there is still a need for more studies on this topic, but this is huge! With lupus, and most autoimmune diseases, both physical (surgery, physical violence, pregnancy, etc.) AND emotional stress to the body can send you into a flare; which is why we have all been told by our doctors to keep stress to a minimum, so it makes sense that having some sort of trauma to the body, whether physical or psychological (along with a genetic predisposition to autoimmune disease), can trigger the disease itself!

I want to know your thoughts. Do you think there is a link between Lupus and Trauma? Did you experience some sort of trauma leading up to your first lupus flare?

2 thoughts on “A Link Between Trauma and Lupus?”

  1. I have been thinking about this topic a lot. I’ve always wondered about the relationship of chronic pain to childhood abuse. I believe emotional trauma stored in the body becomes pain. It could be that autoimmune disorders take hold of a body when internal resources have been exhausted and external stressors exceed what the body can handle. I know that is what happened to me.

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