Like with the similarities between depression and anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has similar symptoms to both of them. You can say that PTSD is depression and anxiety mixed into one mental illness.
The symptoms of depression like insomnia, emotional detachment, avoidance of all social interaction and lack of interest in usual activities and your own future, trouble with concentration, - they are all present in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
But it's the differences from depression which will determine your diagnosis. They include the constant thoughts of trauma, memories, flashbacks, extreme irritation and emotional instability.
You're highly likely to experience PTSD if you had some sort of near death experience - were involved in a car crash, fire, war, often for women, rape as well.
You are also predisposed to PTSD if you have suffered from depression or anxiety and panic attacks previously, your family had a history of mental illnesses, had poor background, you have suffered or suffer from drug and alcohol abuse. Research also shows that more women than men experience PTSD.
The treatment for PTSD is very similar to both treatments for depression and anxiety:
- The doctors usually prescribe antidepressant medications, mostly SSRI's (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) like Paroxetine.
- For anxiety symptoms you'll get anti-anxiety medications like Mirtazapine or Phenelzine.
- You may also be prescribed some mood stabilizers like Valium (Diazepam), but only for couple of weeks and only if you had a particular bad anxiety problem.
Don't give up if the medications are not working straight away! As I said before, it takes up to two months for them to take effect.
Non-medication help for PTSD involves:
- Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). Expect to talk about what triggers your memories and flashbacks and work on how to start thinking about them differently.
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Here is a very fascinating and simple method of stopping your memories from affecting you that much, and nobody knows quite how it works. The therapist asks you to think about the trauma and follow with your eyes the movements of his finger while thinking of what upsets you. After few sessions like this you find that you become desensitized with your memories about the traumatic event.
- Any other counselling methodslike depression and anxiety group therapy, self-help group for PTSD.
- Learning relaxation techniques, meditation, etc.
Whatever you do, don't give up. Each person recovers differently depending on their trauma. It can be few months or it can be few years, but remember YOU WILL RECOVER.