It is not unexpected to find that many people with post-traumatic stress (PTSD) also suffer from depression. The link between the two diagnoses was definitively confirmed by a meta-analysis of 57 studies. The results of the Case Western Reserve analysis highlight the need for people with PTSD to also be assessed for depressive disorders.
Highlights of the analysis are revealing.
- 52% of the participants had both PTSD and major depressive disorder (MDD)
- All participants had experienced physical or sexual trauma
- Results were similar for both men and women – women are more likely to report feeling depressed; some men experience the same symptoms but do not tell anyone
- Findings were similar for both civilians and military personnel
Post-Traumatic Stress vs. Major Depressive Disorder
Post-traumatic stress (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after a traumatic experience, such as a physical or sexual attack, an accident or combat. Symptoms can develop within a month or two of the traumatic incident or it may take years to surface. Combat soldiers, police and first responders who are regularly exposed to traumatic incidents are more likely to develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress (PTSD) but could happen to anyone. Some people with PTSD turn to legal and illegal drugs and alcohol in an attempt to deal with adverse flashbacks and emotions.
Symptoms of PTSD include:
- Unwanted negative memories you can’t get out of your thoughts
- Frightening, recurring flashbacks that can be triggered by a sound, smell or something else
- Avoiding people or places that heighten the memory or cause a flashback
- Trying to repress certain memories
- Emotional numbness and/or emotional paralysis
- Feelings of guilt or blaming others
- Always watching for and expecting danger and hypervigilance
- Trouble focusing
- Erratic sleeping patterns and disorders
- Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking, drugs, and isolation
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a mental illness with many different symptoms. The severity of the feelings and emotions range from sadness to suicidal thoughts. Although you may tell yourself you have the ability to pull yourself together, MDD is a diagnosis needing treatment. You cannot simply snap out of it.
Symptoms of MDD include:
- Recurring bouts of depression occurring over several years that can last for weeks and appear suddenly, although a few people will only experience it once
- Feelings of hopelessness and sadness that may become more severe when experiencing elevated levels of stress, such as the end of a relationship or when experiencing serious financial problems
- Eating more or less than normal
- Feeling listless and tired with no energy for normal activities or interest in things you used to enjoy
- An inability to focus or make decisions
- Blaming yourself whether you did anything wrong or not
- Feeling worthless
- Frequent thoughts of suicide
PTSD and MDD Share Some of the Same Symptoms
Many people are uncomfortable revealing their deepest thoughts and feelings. Combat soldiers, in particular, learn to set aside or suppress emotions when necessary. When experiencing problems, many people think they can just “tough it out.” When that does not work, life, relationships, job, and self-confidence can suffer.
PTSD and MDD can present varied levels of symptomology. Every individual is unique and can experience a unique array of symptoms. Making an accurate diagnosis is not as simple as checking off boxes from a list. It takes time and experience to perform an accurate assessment and diagnosis.
People with PTSD or those who are depressed can experience some of the same symptoms. Often, individuals will suffer from both conditions. Accelerated Resolution Therapy can help people struggling with post-traumatic stress and/or depressive disorder.
Shared symptoms include:
- Erratic sleep patterns and difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Sudden anger over things that don’t really matter
- Indifference to people or normal activities
Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) is an evidence-based cognitive psychotherapy that has been accepted as an effective treatment for PTSD and depression by The National Registry of Evidence Based Programs and Practices (NREPP). One of the greatest benefits of ART is that patients notice an improvement in their symptoms very rapidly with a treatment course lasting one to five session, four being the average. Jason, an Afghanistan vet, quoted “I experienced benefits after my first ART session, it has been the most effective therapy in treating and resolving the many combat-related traumas haunting my daily life.”
Through visualization techniques and memory reconsolidation, clients learn to reprogram how their brain stores traumatic images and memories, so the memories become less powerful, bringing relief from flashbacks and other physical and emotional symptoms. Many hospitals, including VA hospitals, other institutions, and private practices are using ART to treat patients for a variety of disorders. Examine the research for yourself.
To learn more about how ART could help you or to find a clinician near you, call 813-435-1374 or contact ART International today.