Depression and PTSD are conditions that can occur after trauma. In fact, if you have PTSD, you are at increased risk for developing depression.
PTSD Depression Link
Trauma causes extreme physical and mental stress, and both PTSD and depression are conditions that can result from the stress of trauma. Statistics demonstrating the link between PTSD and depression include:
- After the Oklahoma City bombing, 23 percent of survivors suffered from depression. Before the bombing, only 13 percent of these people were depressed, according to the National Center for PTSD (2007).
- National Center for PTSD (2007) statistics also reveal that if you have PTSD, you are three to five times more likely to develop depression than those who don’t suffer from the disorder.
- Research funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (2002), revealed high levels of both depression and PTSD in New York City residents five to eight weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Genetics, Depression and PTSD
A genetic connection has been found between anxiety, PTSD and depression. According to Psychiatric Genetics (2008), a study of earthquake survivors in Armenia found that risk for PTSD, anxiety and depression runs in families. Two hundred people from 12 families with varying degrees of these disorders participated in the study, which revealed that:
- Forty-one percent of the variation of PTSD symptoms was due to genetics.
- Sixty-one percent of anxiety symptoms were genetically based.
- Sixty-six percent of the variation in symptoms of depression was genetic.
Symptoms of PTSD
Only your doctor can determine if you have PTSD, depression or both. Symptoms may overlap; feeling depressed is a classic symptom of PTSD. Some other PTSD symptoms include:
- Avoidance of feelings, people, places and thoughts associated with the trauma
- Hyper-vigilance, including irritability, startling easily and always feeling “on guard”
- Re-experiencing the trauma, including flashbacks and nightmares.
To be diagnosed with PTSD, your symptoms must last at least one month.
Everyone feels sad sometimes. You may be diagnosed with depression if you feel sad more days than not for two weeks or more. Some other signs that you may be depressed include:
- Difficulty staying focused
- Eating more or less than you used to
- Feeling hopeless and worthless
- Losing interest in activities you previously enjoyed
- Sleeping more or less than you used to
- Thoughts of harming yourself.
Depression and PTSD Treatment
If you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD and depression, many treatments are available to help you enjoy life again. Antidepressants can be effective for both conditions, as well as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is particularly effective at treating PTSD, since it helps patients recognize and change negative behaviors and thoughts.
During your treatment, a few other things may help you lift your mood, such as:
- Keeping your goals manageable and realistic
- Participating in activities that you enjoy
- Spending time with people you care about
- Staying in good communication with your doctor
- Trying mild exercise.
Goenjian A.K., Noble E.P., Walling D.P., Goenjian H.A., Karayan I.S., Ritchie T.