PTSD and anxiety: how they’re connected

PTSD is when you experience episodes of panic, flashbacks and distress after you go through a traumatic event. War, car crashes, assault, rape, and any other traumatic event can lead you to develop PTSD. Although no longer under the anxiety disorder umbrella, PTSD has a few connections with anxiety.

Like anxiety, PTSD can be episodic, and have certain triggers. With an episode of PTSD, you may have a flashback to what happened and go through a period of great distress.

Triggers

A trigger is something that is usually harmless that sets off your anxiety or PTSD. Triggers can be visual, or involve other senses such as smell. If you have PTSD due to war, the sound of a gunshot can trigger you. For anxiety disorder, the triggers can be random. Moving out and starting a new life can be a trigger. Too much alcohol can be a trigger.

Write down any trigger you experience and figure out how you can avoid them. Sometimes, they’re unavoidable, and in cases like these, therapy may be an option.

Anxiety, PTSD, and Depression

One of the symptoms you may have with both disorders is depression. With PTSD, you may have episodes where you have low self-esteem or feel worthless. Especially if your PTSD is connected to an event that brought your self-esteem down. Anxious people may develop depression over their episodes, and it’s common for people to have both anxiety and depression as disorders.

Suicidal thoughts can be possible as well if you have PTSD or anxiety. If you feel suicidal, seek help immediately.

As an Anxiety Disorder

The classification of PTSD as an anxiety disorder is an interesting one. In the DSM-IV (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, published by the American Psychiatric Association), PTSD was considered an anxiety disorder. However, in the DSM-5 (the most current version of the DSM), it became known as a trauma and stressor related disorder.

With that said, PTSD does have some genetic influences. Studies have shown that PTSD and other anxiety disorders can be inherited from family genetics, but research is still ongoing to determine specific causal genes.

Statistics

General anxiety disorders are quite common. In the US, 40 million adults, or about 1/5th of the population, may have some form of anxiety disorder each year. Despite them being treatable, only about 1/3 of anxiety sufferers seek medical treatment (adaa.org).

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Photo credit: activebeat.com

The Invisible Disorders

Another thing anxiety and PTSD have in common is that it’s hard for someone who doesn’t have it to understand what’s going on. Some people may feel like the person with PTSD or anxiety is overthinking things or just needs to get over it. When talking to someone with these disorders, be empathetic and try to help them whenever you can.

Seeking Help 

If you have PTSD, or an anxiety disorder, you should seek counselling as soon as you can. While PTSD is not so easy to overcome, a professional can help you to overcome it. Left untreated, PTSD can take over your life. It can put you out of a job, strain relationships, and have a negative impact on your mental health.

A doctor can help prescribe medications that can treat symptoms of PTSD. A therapist can teach you ways to cope and how to avoid situations that may trigger your PTSD. You will also learn how to recover from an episode faster and avoid certain triggers.

Both diseases are traumatic to go through, but by seeking help and treating it, the person may be able to live a healthy, productive life.

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This guest post was written by Marie Miguel, who has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

 

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