Violence, stress, and somatic syndromes

Journal: Trauma, Violence, and Abuse. 2007 Jul;8(3):299-313.

Author and affiliation: Crofford LJ. Center for the Advancement of Women's Health, University of Kentucky, Kentucky, USA. [E-mail: lcrofford@uky.edu ]

PMID: 17596347

Syndromes characterized by pain, fatigue, mood disorder, cognitive dysfunction, and sleep disturbance have been referred to as stress-related somatic disorders by virtue of the observation that onset and exacerbation of symptoms occur with stress. These syndromes include but are not limited to Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, temporomandibular disorder, and irritable bowel syndrome.

As with most chronic illnesses, genetic susceptibility and lifetime environmental exposures play a role in creating vulnerability to disease.

Cumulative lifetime stress has been associated with a number of physiologic changes in the brain and body that reflect dysregulated hormonal and autonomic activity. Exposure to the stressor of violence is likely to create a state of vulnerability for the stress-related somatic syndromes and also to contribute to symptom expression and severity.

Understanding the relationship between violence, stress, and somatic syndromes will help in clarifying the consequences of violence exposure to long-term health and health-related quality of life.

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