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PTSD and Depression - Overview

Depression is common in men and women with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The trauma that caused PTSD also may cause depression.

If you have either of these mental health problems, it is possible you have the other. You may need to treat both of them.

Did You Know?

Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will cover preventive mental health services, including screening tests for depression and alcohol misuse, at no cost to you. Learn more.

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PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur after you have been through a traumatic event. A traumatic event is something horrible and scary that you see or that happens to you. During this type of event, you think that your life or others' lives are in danger.

Anyone who has gone through a life-threatening event can develop PTSD. These events include:

  • Combat or terrorist attacks.
  • Violent crimes, such as rape, child abuse, or a physical attack.
  • Serious accidents, such as a car wreck.
  • Natural disasters, such as a fire, tornado, flood, or earthquake.

After going through a traumatic event, you may feel upset by things that remind you of what happened. You may have nightmares, vivid memories, or flashbacks of the event and feel like it's happening all over again. You also may avoid situations that remind you of the event, and you may feel numb or lose interest in things you used to care about.

Depression happens more often than any other medical problem in women who have PTSD, and it occurs often in men with PTSD.1

Depression

Depression can make you feel overwhelmed, sad, or hopeless. You may feel like your problems are piling up, and you can't fix them. These symptoms can last for a long time, or they might come and go. Being depressed doesn't mean you're weak, and it doesn't mean you're just feeling sorry for yourself. It is a problem that can be helped.

Common symptoms of depression are:2

  • Feeling sad or hopeless.
  • Losing your interest in or not getting pleasure from most daily activities that you enjoyed in the past.

Other symptoms of depression include losing or gaining weight, sleeping too much or too little, and feeling unworthy or guilty.

  • Take this short quiz to check for symptoms of depression.
  • For more information, see the topic Depression.
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