Neurocare Centers of America

Neurocare Centers of America

The Connection Between PTSD and Depression

Bad humor, good mood, sadness, and joy are all part of life, and they can come and go. But if your mood interferes with your daily activities, or if you seem emotionally stagnant, you may have depression or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

PTSD and depression can affect your mood, interests, energy levels, and emotions. However, different things or events cause them. It is possible to suffer from these two conditions simultaneously; your risk of suffering from one increase if you have the other.

Next is some information about PTSD and depression and how they are alike and different.


PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is a stress-related condition that may develop after a traumatic or stressful event.

This disorder can occur after witnessing or experiencing a disturbing event, including physical or sexual assault, natural disaster, war, accidents, and domestic violence.

Symptoms of PTSD usually do not appear immediately after the event. Instead, they appear several weeks or months later, after the physical scars have likely healed.

PTSD and Depression

Connection Between PTSD and Depression


  • Re-experiencing memories: these memories may include flashbacks or intrusive recollections about the event, nightmares, and unwanted memories.
  • Avoidance: You may try to avoid discussing or thinking about the incident. To accomplish this, you may consider avoiding people, locations, or situations that recall you of the stressor.
  • Negative thoughts and mood swings: Mood changes frequently, but if you have PTSD, you may often feel depressed, numb, and hopeless. You may also be tough on yourself, with tremendous guilt or self-loathing. Also, you may feel detached from other people, including friends and family. This situation can make the symptoms of PTSD worse.
  • Changes in behaviors and reactions: PTSD can cause unusual emotional outbursts, such as startling easily or freaking out quickly and becoming angry or irrational. It can also cause people to act in self-destructive ways. This action includes speeding, drug use or abuse, or excessive alcohol consumption.

PTSD and Depression

Your leading care provider or a mental health professional can diagnose PTSD. Your physician will begin with a physical exam to ensure that a physical illness is not causing your symptoms.

Once doctors rule out a physical problem, they may refer you to a mental health professional for further evaluation. Your physician may diagnose PTSD if you have experienced symptoms of the disorder for more than four weeks and have difficulty completing daily tasks due to your distress and emotions.

Some physicians will refer patients with PTSD to a mental health specialist. These specialist health care providers include psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors, who may help you find the correct treatment.

Connection Between PTSD and Depression


Depression is a chronic mood disorder. It is more intense and lasts longer than a day of sadness or “blues.” Depression can have a significant impact on both your health and well-being.

Your physician may diagnose depression if you have five or more symptoms for at least two weeks.


  • Having feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
  • Feeling tired or not having sufficient energy.
  • Sleeping too much or too little.
  • Not getting pleasure from activities that were once enjoyable.
  • Having difficulty concentrating and making decisions.
  • Experiencing feelings of worthlessness.
  • Often considering suicide or frequently having death thoughts.


It is possible to have PTSD and depression simultaneously; they are often confused with each other because of similar symptoms.

PTSD and depression may share these symptoms:

  • Trouble sleeping or excess sleeping.
  • Emotional outbursts, including rage or aggressiveness.
  • Losing interest in activities

Studies suggest that individuals with PTSD are more likely to experience depression. Similarly, individuals with depressive mood disorders are more likely to experience more anxiety or stress.

Deciphering between unique symptoms can help your physician find the correct treatment.

For example, people with PTSD may have increased anxiety around specific individuals, places, or things, due to the traumatic event.

Depression, however, may not be related to any identifiable problem or event. Of course, life events can make depression worse, but depression often occurs and worsens independently of any life event.


Traumatic experiences may lead to PTSD. Signs of this disorder usually appear several weeks after the distressing experience. In addition, depression may also follow traumatic events.

Studies suggest that nearly half of individuals with PTSD experience depression. In addition, individuals who have had PTSD at some point in their lives are three to five times more at risk of developing depression than individuals who have not experienced PTSD.

Individuals with depression or a depressive disorder are also more likely to have symptoms of an anxiety disorder.

Although PTSD and depression are different disorders, doctors may treat them similarly. With both conditions, seeking treatment as soon as possible is vital. Letting either condition persist or worsen for months or years may damage your physical and mental health.

PTSD treatment focuses on alleviating symptoms, controlling emotional reactions, and eliminating paralyzing avoidance; the most common treatments may include:

  • Prescription medicines intake such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication, and sleeping pills.
  • Support meetings where you can talk about feelings and learn from people who share similar experiences.
  • Talking therapy is an individual cognitive behavioral therapy that may help you express thoughts and develop healthy responses.


Depression treatment also aims to alleviate symptoms and help to reestablish a positive quality of life; the most common treatments may include:

  • Prescription medication intake includes antidepressants, anti-anxiety medicines, antipsychotic medicines, and sleeping pills.
  • Psychotherapy with talking therapy or CBT helps you learn to cope with feelings and emotions.
  • Group therapy for people who are chronically depressed or their family members living with them.
  • Lifestyle changes include healthy choices, including exercise, balanced eating, and adequate sleep.
  • Light therapy with controlled exposure to white light helps improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression.


Physicians use many of the same treatments for PTSD and depression; these include prescription medications, talk therapy, group therapy, and lifestyle improvements.

Mental health doctors treating PTSD usually treat depression too.

There is always a way; contact us if you think you need help.