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    Includes Expert Content
    Is There A Link Between Essential Tremor And PTSD?
    avatar
    sobern90 posted:
    I never had tremor (ET) in my life before late 1999. I was 42 years old work for the Arizona Department of Transportation as a Geodetic Surveyor in Kingman, Arizona when one morning I had a sever major PTSD flash back that lasted almost eight hours. I literally scared my fellow crew members half to death.

    The state sent me to their psychologist for testing and that was when the diagnoses of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder were made.

    Almost immediately following this episode my hands started there involuntary shaking to the point where I could not oil paint, or draw any longer. I could no longer sign my name legible or write to where it could be read. I had to drink from half full cups or glasses or I would spill my drink all over my shirt. I could no longer eat soup with a spoon without sending it across the table.

    The Veterans Administration has awarded me disability for my PTSD as service connected but have not service connected the Essential Tremor. However, if the Essential Tremor has been manifested by the onset of the PTSD in Kingman, then it is a secondary condition to the PTSD and therefore, related by law and the VA should allow service connection.

    So does anyone know of any studies or medical research that links Essential Tremor with PTSD as a cause? If so can you direct me to them please?

    Thanks,
    Guy
    Reply
     
    avatar
    cjltrekker responded:
    I too was diagnosed PTSD from the VA.. Afterwards I developed a slight tremmor in my hands. Not huge but noticable to me, hard to hod a cell phone steady to read it most times. I was under the assumption that it was possibly caused by my Medication?
    I never really checked it out, I have been under care and medicated since spring of 2002. Celexa and Gababpentin.
     
    avatar
    Thomas L Schwartz, MD responded:
    Hello- do other people in your family have tremors, if so it may not be the PTSD at all but just coincidental timing for onset of a genetic driven tremor.
    Are you taking any meds as often they can cause tremor, so could eb a coincidence.
    I am not sure what caused your PTSD but at the time of the trauma, did you have tremors? If you relive the PTSD event, you could re live the tremors I suppose too.
    Do the tremors serve a purpose? Do they keep you away from things that might re activate the PTSD?
    These are all things to consider. I'd ask your VA psychiatrist as your question is a good and valid one.
     
    avatar
    sobern90 replied to Thomas L Schwartz, MD's response:
    My grandfather on my mom's side of the family may have had ET but I am not 100% sure.

    Prior to the PTSD/Major depression attack of October 1999, I was able to do Calligraphy, pen and ink drawing on canvas, and oil paintings. Following the attack of October 1999 my hand shock so bad that I have not been able to continue in these pleasurable hobbies of mine any longer.

    The ET started prior to being proscribed any medication for depression or PTSD. The onset of the ET was not due to medication.

    The ET has continued from October 1999 until this day. Sometimes it is worse than other times. I do not think it is a safety reaction to my PTSD but I have never considered this until now. Even if it is, then it would be a secondary condition to the PTSD as I asked about in my first post.

    It still seems to me the severity of the PTSD attack in October 1999 triggered the ET somehow from a dormant state. I mean it may be possible as that is how it is starting to look and feel to me.
     
    avatar
    sobern90 replied to cjltrekker's response:
    It is very hard for me to write or print anymore. I cannot write checks to pay my bills any longer and I am forced to use online bill pay from my bank to pay my bills. My ET is not always noticeable until either I pick up a pencil or pen or small object then the shakes are very visible to any person looking. The same with forks or spoons. I had to go through three different meds until the neurologist found one that worked on my ET. I now take Topamax 100mg daily for my ET and that seems to work most of the time to control the ET at a manageable level.
     
    avatar
    susiemargaret responded:
    hello, S --

    i did some quick internet skipping-around tonight to see if i could find anything that tied essential tremor and PTSD together. i found two theories; however, both were from forum discussion boards rather than medical sites, and neither describes the link as a cause-and-effect one between the two but instead as each having a link to the same third influence.

    one idea is that both are loosely connected to the use of agent orange in the vietnam war. the theory is that war experiences could cause PTSD, that agent orange has been postulated as a cause of essential tremor, and therefore that if the PTSD-related experiences took place in an area where agent orange was used, both the PTSD and the essential tremor could be considered to have a common cause.

    a second idea is that because propranolol/inderal (see PS1) has been used to treat both, they might be somehow connected to each other in that way. i don't really understand that theory but felt it worth mentioning because i've seen several discussions of it. i have seen similar references to gabapentin/neurontin (PS2).

    i did searches thru --

    -- http://clinicaltrials.gov , which lists all federally and privately supported clinical trials,

    -- http://www.biomedsearch.com , which lists NIH/pubMed documents, theses, dissertations, and other publications not found anywhere else for free,

    -- http://gateway.nlm.nih.gov/gw/Cmd , the gateway for resources from the NIH national library of medicine, and

    -- google, http://www.google.com/search?q=(%22essential tremor%22 PTSD)&hl=en&rlz=1T4DMUS_enUS305US305&ei=FvQzTJC8OYaBlAeyxZm_Cw&start=0&sa=N&cts=1278474136576 -- ("essential tremor" PTSD).

    i'm sorry i couldn't find anything more productive.

    -- susie margaret

    PS1 -- webMD info on propranolol/inderal is at http://www.webmd.com/drugs/mono-9168-PROPRANOLOL - ORAL.aspx?drugid=10404&drugname=Propranolol Oral&source=2 .

    PS2 -- webMD info on gabapentin/neurontin is at http://www.webmd.com/drugs/mono-8217-GABAPENTIN - ORAL.aspx?drugid=14208&drugname=Gabapentin Oral&source=2 .
    what good is gold, or silver too, if your heart's not good and true -- hank williams, sr.
     
    avatar
    An_239821 replied to susiemargaret's response:
    I have been to a movement disorder specialist (neurology is specialty) and they can test you while you are having the tremors to help determine the cause. I was told the cause of the tremors I was having was related to post traumatic stress disorder. This was at the Mayo Clinic. Therefore, I think there is a link to PTSD and the tremors. Especially if you look at the times when you are having the tremors, you can see the relationship. They may be able to provide further information or assistance.
     
    avatar
    mylife211 replied to An_239821's response:
    I have been having hand tremors for the past three years directly at the same time I went through a divorse. They have been constant since with sometimes very suttle but usually notable when I am anxious. I suffer from PTSD coming from living with a emotionally and physically abusive step dad since the age of 2. I have been in Psychotherapy for the past 7 years. Since my divorce I have worked through tons of emotional hurdles. I feel the stress of the divorce and working through my emotional issues has been so taxing that I have tremors from nervousness. There are times when I don't have tremors but only at times of very low anxiety which does not happen often. I feel my tremors are from emotional/nervousness from my up bringing.
     
    avatar
    DLMcQ responded:
    I'm a Vietnam veteran. I developed a tremor in my hands while I was in Vietnam. As others have noted on this page and elsewhere, it's embarrassing to eat in public, since I have a hard time getting food to my mouth without broadcasting it around the table. Writing legibly is not possible for me -- fortunately, I do most of my work on a computer.

    I've never sought a disability from the VA, but have been considering it lately. However, based on what I'm reading here, it seems unlikely that my tremor would be recognized as having originated from my military service. Since most of these posts are three yrs old, I'm wondering if any research has emerged in the interim that would link tremors in the hands to PTSD or Agent Orange.

    Thanks,
    DLMcQ
     
    avatar
    CUPPMarineVietnam replied to DLMcQ's response:
    I am a Vietnam combat veteran. I had severe hand tremors in 1971 which moderated over time. However, my left hand continued to have and has tremors to the present time. I used to hide my hand tremors by using my right hand while drinking a cup of coffee. Note that I am left handed. Over the past 10 or more years my right hand also has visible tremors. I have a medical diagnosis for tremors and have tried to link them to my PTSD. The VA has not allowed that my tremors are aggrevated by my PTSD. I am seeking additional information.

    Thanks,
     
    avatar
    SaturdayMorning replied to CUPPMarineVietnam's response:
    You really need to appeal the decision of the VA. It is a process..My husband served combat in Vietnam in the 60's and took direct rain coverage of Agent Orange. Today, he has episodes of tremors, along with other health related conditions. They don't know what is causing the tremors either..He was in the Navy. Swam in the waters where the Agent Orange ran off. You and many Vietnam veterans report these tremors. I know there has been reconsiderations of claims. You may get denied but at least try..and try again.. Thank you for your service.


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