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How Does Ptsd Affect Depression

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Treating Trauma And Ptsd

How Trauma and PTSD Change the Brain

Treatment for PTSD requires a comprehensive approach dedicated to processing trauma in a healthy way. Victims often find relief using a combination of medications and cognitive behavioral therapy .

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , commonly used to treat depression, are effective in treating some PTSD symptoms. CBT has also been known to help.

CBT is a short-term, goal-oriented therapy. A PTSD sufferer works with a therapist to identify the thoughts that make his or her feelings worse and then process the negative emotions associated with his or her traumatic experience. CBT helps a PTSD sufferer have less fear about his or her memories, while additional group and family therapy can help establish a support system.

Why Do Some People Develop Ptsd And Other People Do Not

It is important to remember that not everyone who lives through a dangerous event develops PTSD. In fact, most people will not develop the disorder.

Many factors play a part in whether a person will develop PTSD. Some examples are listed below. Risk factors make a person more likely to develop PTSD. Other factors, called resilience factors, can help reduce the risk of the disorder.

Some factors that increase risk for PTSD include:

  • Living through dangerous events and traumas
  • Feeling horror, helplessness, or extreme fear
  • Having little or no social support after the event
  • Dealing with extra stress after the event, such as loss of a loved one, pain and injury, or loss of a job or home
  • Having a history of mental illness or substance abuse

Some factors that may promote recovery after trauma include:

  • Seeking out support from other people, such as friends and family
  • Finding a support group after a traumatic event
  • Learning to feel good about ones own actions in the face of danger
  • Having a positive coping strategy, or a way of getting through the bad event and learning from it
  • Being able to act and respond effectively despite feeling fear

Researchers are studying the importance of these and other risk and resilience factors, including genetics and neurobiology. With more research, someday it may be possible to predict who is likely to develop PTSD and to prevent it.

How Can Parents Help

If your child has been through trauma, here are things you can do:

  • Help your child feel safe. They may need extra time, comfort, and care from you for a while.
  • Help your child relax. Invite them to take a few slow breaths with you. Breathe in while you count to 3. Breathe out while you count to 5.
  • Do things together that you enjoy. Trauma can make it harder to feel the positive emotions that naturally help kids recharge. Play, laugh, enjoy nature, make music or art, cook. These activities can reduce stress and build your childs resilience.
  • Reassure your child. Let them know they will get through this. And that you are there to help.
  • Let your childs doctor know what your child has been through. Get a referral to a mental health professional .
  • Tell your childs teacher that your child went through a trauma. Kids with PTSD may have more trouble focusing on schoolwork. Ask for your child to have extra help or more time to do schoolwork if they need it for a while.

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How Are The Conditions Treated

While depression and PTSD can leave those affected and their close family and friends feeling helpless and alone, there is hope. Depression and PTSD share common treatment methods including medications, service animals, and psychotherapy. If you believe you or a loved one is suffering from depression or PTSD, see a doctor immediately to discuss treatment options.

A doctor may prescribe antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and sleep aids to help treat the symptoms of both PTSD and depression. Participating in psychotherapy, or talk therapy, in addition to taking medications can help those affected learn how to manage emotions and the symptoms. For those with PTSD, exposure therapy and cognitive restructuring has proven successful in helping individuals control their fears and make sense of traumatic memories.

The use of service dogs to help combat feelings of anxiety, depression and fear that are associated with PTSD and depression is also common. Studies have found that petting an animal can relieve stress and service dogs are professionally trained to assist individuals during panic attacks, night terrors, and protect them in crowded rooms or distract them from maladaptive behaviors.

How Is Ptsd Treated

What Is Post


There are a number of antidepressants that are approved for treating PTSD. These medications have the added benefit of lifting your depression and anxiety symptoms.

The four prominently prescribed ones are:

  • Narrative exposure therapy

Prolonged exposure therapy is considered the first line of talk therapy defense for PTSD. Its a type of CBT that involves exposing the patient to difficult feelings or situations related to the initial trauma. By doing this in a careful way under a trained therapist, the patient learns to turn off the fear response when those triggers come up.

A New Option: TMS

There is an additional treatment option available that can replace or be used in conjunction with medication for both depression and PTSD: transcranial magnetic stimulation . The FDA has approvedTMS to treat depression it is not yet approved for PTSD and may not be covered by insurance.

The VA has started to use transcranial magnetic stimulation to treat PTSD in war veterans. The non-invasive treatment works by reconnecting neural pathways that become underactive in people with depression and PTSD. TMS has none of the side effects associated with antidepressant medications, and its highly effective. Psychiatrists such as those using it at the VA have seen great success with it. If youve tried medications and therapy but still have symptoms, TMS is a great option.

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How Is Depression Treated

There are many treatment options for depression. You should be assessed by a healthcare professional who can decide which type of treatment is best for you. In many cases, milder forms of depression are treated by counseling or therapy. More severe depression is treated with medicines or with both therapy and medicine.

Research has shown that certain types of therapy and medicine are effective for both depression and PTSD. Since the symptoms of PTSD and depression can overlap, treatment that helps with PTSD may also result in improvement of depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of therapy that is proven effective for both problems. CBT can help patients change negative styles of thinking and acting that can lead to both depression and PTSD. A type of medicine that is effective for both depression and PTSD is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor . See Treatment Basics for more information.

How Do I Know If I Have Depression Or Ptsd

Getting an accurate diagnosis is the first step in treating PTSD or depression effectively. Since mental health problems can have overlapping symptoms, its important to find the right diagnosis that explains your symptoms. Getting an accurate diagnosis may begin by speaking to a professional about your symptoms. You may speak to your doctor, therapist, or psychiatrist to get started. If you enter a treatment program, you will go through an assessment process with a professional.

Your doctor or therapist will likely use the DSM as a guide when diagnosing your mental health. You may also go through a biopsychosocial, which is an in-depth questionnaire that explores any potential biological, psychological, or social needs you may have.

When youre seeking a diagnosis, its important to do a psychological evaluation, but thats not all. Its often wise to go through a medical check-up as well. This may involve a physical exam with blood work. In some cases, medical problems like head injuries, malnutrition, tumors, vitamin deficiencies, and other factors can impact your mental health. Sometimes, mental health problems can cause medical complications that also need to be addressed.

Written by: Joseph Raspolich

About Joseph Raspolich: Joe is a writer for California Highlands and has dedicated his career to creating well-researched content so that those that are in search of treatment can find the help they need.

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Alcohol Tobacco And Other Drugs

The misuse and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, and prescription medications affect the health and well-being of millions of Americans. SAMHSAs 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that approximately 19.3 million people aged 18 or older had a substance use disorder in the past year.

Support Is Important For Recovery

Complex PTSD affects the brain long-term and can affect your closest relationships

Many people experience some of the symptoms of PTSD in the first two weeks after a traumatic event, but most recover with the help of family and friends. For this reason, for a diagnosis of PTSD is not made until a month after the event. Treatment does not usually start for at least two or more weeks after a traumatic experience. However if the event is very distressing and emotions and reactions are intense, it is advisable to seek help as early as possible to understand what is happening and help recovery to start.

It is important during the first few days and weeks after a traumatic event to get whatever help is needed. This may include accessing information, people and resources that can help you to recover. Support from family and friends may be all that is needed. Otherwise, a doctor is the best place to start to get further help.

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What If Work Does Cause Ptsd

If you develop PTSD while youre at work, your next step depends on several factors. Dealing with PTSD thats caused by your chosen career may be a challenge, but it can be treated. Just like police and first responders, many people experience work-related traumatic events and develop PTSD but go on to have successful careers.

If a traumatic event happens while youre at work and when youre working, resulting PTSD may qualify you for benefits like workers compensation. But there is a catch. The rules surrounding workers comp claims separate mental health-related injuries into two categories: mental-mental and physical-mental claims.

Mental-mental claims involve mental health problems that are caused by mental strain. Physical-mental claims involve mental health problems that are caused by physical injuries or trauma. Unfortunately, mental-mental claims are more difficult to prove than physical-mental claims. PTSD can be caused by both physical and mental trauma.

A firefighter may develop PTSD after witnessing death, even if they didnt experience any personal injury or danger. In many cases, you may be compared to coworkers with the same duties, even though its possible for two people to experience the same trauma while only one develops PTSD.

PTSD treatment and symptoms may make managing a work schedule difficult at times. You may feel overwhelmed by symptoms, or you may need to attend a treatment program to deal with PTSD.

Biological Factors That Distinguish Between Ptsd And Mdd

In contrast to the risk factor research described above, biological studies that address PTSD/MDD comorbidity generally examine how PTSD and MDD have distinct, and sometimes diverging, biological signals. This research includes studies that examine structural and functional neuroimaging, measures of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, and more recently, DNA molecular markers .

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What Is Major Depression

Major depression is also called major depressive disorder, clinical depression, or just depression, and is one of the most common mental illnesses. Between 15 and 20 percent of people will develop depression at least once in their lives.

Depression is a mood disorder, which means that it changes how you think and feel about yourself and the world in general. Symptoms of depression include feeling sad, hopeless, and empty, being easily angry or frustrated, losing interest in activities you used to enjoy, fatigue, changes in how you sleep and eat, anxiety, feeling guilty or worthless, difficulty thinking, and thoughts of death or suicide.

Everyone feels these things sometimes, but to be diagnosed with depression the symptoms have to be severe enough to disrupt your ability to function normally. They also have to persist most of the time, every day for two weeks or longer.

What Does The Freeze State Look Like

The 2020 PTSD Clinical Trial and Research Guide

When facing extreme stress, our bodies can go into survival mode and react with the following defense mechanisms that have parallels with the symptoms of depression:

On the other hand, PTSD differs from depression with these signs:

  • reliving the traumatic event, such as intrusive memories, nightmares, flashbacks, or being triggered
  • avoiding situations that remind you of the traumatic event
  • increase in negative thoughts about yourself that werent there before the traumatic event
  • a tendency of being on high alert, jittery, and continuously looking for danger, known as hypervigilance

Psychotherapy is the recommended treatment for both PTSD and depression. Within therapy, trauma-focused treatments are often even more effective.

Therapies that address trauma may focus on:

  • intrusive memories
  • avoidance and escape behaviors

If you decide to seek help for the aftereffects of a trauma, it can help to talk with a therapist who specializes or has experience in treating PTSD. Theyll be able to offer specifically designed therapies to meet the unique needs that people have after experiencing trauma.

Common treatments for PTSD include prolonged exposure and cognitive processing therapy .

For example, therapists may use exposure therapy to help you face and manage your fears in a safe environment. Therapists dont tend to use these techniques for depression or other related disorders.

Psychotherapy for the treatment of depression may focus on:

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What Are The Symptoms Of Depression

Depression is more than just feeling sad. Most people with depression feel down or sad more days than not for at least 2 weeks. Or they find they no longer enjoy or have interest in things anymore. If you have depression, you may notice that you’re sleeping and eating a lot more or less than you used to. You may find it hard to stay focused. You may feel down on yourself or hopeless. With more severe depression, you may think about hurting or killing yourself. See Suicide and PTSD.

Other Effects Of Ptsd

If you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, you might also find that you have difficulty with some everyday aspects of your life, such as:

  • looking after yourself
  • remembering things and making decisions
  • coping with change
  • simply enjoying your leisure time.

If you drive you may have to tell the DVLA that you have PTSD. For more information on your right to drive, including when and how to contact the DVLA, see our legal pages on fitness to drive.

My behaviour changed and became erratic. I would alternate from wanting to shut myself away and not see or talk to anyone to going out to parties in the middle of the week and staying out late.

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The Physical Effects Of Ptsd

Tonya Molnar

You might be wondering why we are talking about physical symptoms when discussing a mental health disorder. The truth is, you are a whole human being made up of all your various parts, and these parts work as a system. Your mental health affects your physical health and vice versa.

This is where the physical effects of trauma come in.

People who have experienced trauma and have long term trauma symptoms spend much of their day experiencing high anxiety and tension in the body. Over time, this muscle tension evolves into inflammation and chronic pain.

Being in a constant state of anxiety and tension also affects your digestive system due to high cortisol levels and cytokines, which cause inflammation and increase your risk for developing ulcers and other gastrointestinal difficulties.

The constant flood of stress hormones, tension, anxiety, and increased inflammation also contributes to chronic headaches and migraines.

Left unaddressed, the effects of long term stress and anxiety can lead to long term physical damage and medical issues such as heart disease, stroke, lowered immune system response increasing susceptibility to illness, difficulties with managing a healthy weight, and diabetes, just to name a few.

Stress and anxiety are the number one reported cause of insomnia. When you experience the long term effects of trauma, nightmares, racing thoughts, and stress can be worse at night when there are fewer distractions to otherwise occupy your mind.

Ptsd And Work: How Your Job Is Affected By Disability

How Trauma & PTSD Impact a Relationship [& What to Do]

Trauma can shake up your life and get in the way of normal tasks. When you develop post-traumatic stress disorder , it can cause symptoms that disrupt your sleep and your ability to concentrate. After a traumatic event like a car crash or an assault, you may want to pick up the pieces and return to work, but PTSD can make that difficult.

At the same time, theres a stigma surrounding PTSD that its just in your head, and you should be able to shake it off. Unfortunately, it may be very difficult to just shake off a mental health issue like PTSD. So, what can you do about work and other duties and obligations? Does PTSD qualify for things like disability benefits and workers compensation?

Learn more about post-traumatic stress disorder and how you can manage your recovery and return to your life.

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What Risks Are Associated With Ptsd

Alcohol and drug use

Some people who live with PTSD use drugs or alcohol to help manage the symptoms.

Drug or alcohol misuse can make you more unwell, especially is it is excessive. It can make you more likely to try and harm yourself or take your own life.

You can find out more about Drugs, alcohol and mental health by clicking here.

Mental health conditions

Most people who live with PTSD will have at least 1 other mental health condition. The most common conditions are:

  • substance use, and
  • anxiety disorders.

Other mental health conditions have some of the same symptoms as PTSD. This may be why PTSD can sometimes be hard to diagnose.

If you think you may be experiencing PTSD, you can tell your healthcare professional. You can explain that youve been through a trauma, and you think your symptoms might be related to PTSD.

You can find out more about:

  • Depression by clicking here, and
  • Anxiety disorders by clicking here.

Suicidal thoughts

Sometimes PTSD symptoms can be long-lasting and can have a significant impact on day-to-day life. This can sometimes lead to suicidal thoughts.

You can find out more about Suicidal thoughts How to cope by clicking here.


There is a link between PTSD and psychosis. But it isnt known if psychosis is sometimes a symptom of PTSD. Or if it is a separate mental health condition, that can be developed alongside PTSD.

You can find out more about Psychosis by clicking here.

Physical health issues

You can find more information about:

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