It’s common for a condition like post-traumatic stress (PTS) to co-occur with depression. In fact, depression can often be a symptom of PTS. One study has even shown that about half of all cases of PTS co-occurred with a major depressive disorder. The two share a unique relationship that can often be conjoined, and even have some of the same symptoms.
Trauma is a tricky thing because each individual is uniquely affected by it. Let’s say a group of people all experience what’s considered a traumatic event like a car accident. Their psychological reactions to that event will range. Some will have no reaction. Within about a month or two, some may begin to display symptoms of PTS. Others may seem unaffected for years, and then without warning may begin to experience symptoms.
Though PTS and depression often co-occur and share some symptoms (sleep issues, shorter temper, or loss of interest in people, places, and things), they also vary greatly. Depression can occur once and never recur. It can also occur and recur with no rhyme or reason over the years. Significant events (like divorce for example) can also magnify the symptoms of depression. Depressive episodes typically last at least two weeks.
PTS on the other hand, specifically originates when a person experiences a traumatic event. Due to the nature of their work it’s not uncommon for first responders such as doctors, police officers, firemen, and emergency workers to experience PTS in their line of duty. Unlike depression which makes itself known immediately, the signs and symptoms of PTS take time to appear. At the earliest, PTS can present itself around a month after the traumatic event occurred. However, it could take years before symptoms of post-traumatic stress make themselves known, and may do so seemingly without warning.
The two can also intertwine and fuel one another. People who suffer from depression are more likely to endure and be affected by traumatic experiences. In turn, PTS symptoms can be so intense and distressing that they can both cause and contribute to depression.
One thing that is true about both PTS and depression, they require vigilance. The more quickly a person seeks out help for symptoms of PTS, the greater the chances are that depression won’t occur and symptoms won’t intensify. Since depression can often recur, it’s important to be under the care of a professional that can help identify and manage the effects of depression. If you or someone you know might be experiencing symptoms of either depression or post-traumatic stress, visit or call SAMHSA.
Posted on October 19 2020 in Blog