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Understanding PTSD, Trauma, and Depression

When dealing with PTSD, it is important to recognize that it is a combination of factors.

These include trauma and depression.

Combined, these conditions can have a devastating effect on people who are really hurting and need help.

Consider the connection.

What is Trauma?

Understanding PTSD means having an understanding of trauma and its effects. Basically, trauma is an event or series of events in one’s life that causes emotional or psychological distress. These are not things that are easily shaken or forgotten about.

Traumatic events may include, for example:

  • Witnessing a violent act, like a robbery
  • Getting caught in a natural disaster, such as a flood
  • Experiencing bullying at school when a child
  • Participating in combat
  • Losing a loved one, either from natural causes, a disease, or from violence

Of course, we all experience traumas throughout our lives. However, for some, the damage from trauma is so great that it affects their mental well-being.

Understanding PTSD

The result of experiencing a trauma may be that you develop what’s called post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. It is often associated with, but not limited to, those who have been to war.

Whatever trauma you may have experienced in your life, it could have been so psychologically scarring that you remain “stuck.” Your brain continues sending out messages saying, “I’m not safe.”

Even though, logically you may realize that you are no longer in danger, psychologically you are in danger.

What are the Symptoms of PTSD?

Symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Avoidance of situations that are stressful
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Trouble staying focused
  • State of constantly being “on guard” for potential threats

These symptoms exist because your mind has not fully processed and absorbed the trauma. Hence, the effects of the trauma come out sideways and negatively impact your life.

Over time this is very draining and causes changes in mood that are particularly troubling.

Depression and PTSD

It is commonly known that people who have been diagnosed with PTSD are at a greater risk of depression and suicide. Why does depression affect those with PTSD? There are several reasons why:

  • The experiences they faced are very troubling and painful
  • There is guilt and sadness over the loss of someone close
  • It feels as if nobody else understands
  • Staying vigilant for potential threats is emotionally exhausting

The combination of a heightened awareness of danger plus the belief that no one else understands what is happening is unsettling. It leaves one to feel isolated and alone. As with PTSD, depression can last for years unless properly treated.

The Impact of Trauma, PTSD, and Depression

The impact of these conditions combined together is devastating. It is hard to feel “normal” when there is something wrong. Being able to hold down a job becomes difficult. Personal relationships with family and friends suffer.

Perhaps worst of all is that one becomes much more susceptible to substance abuse. This is because sufferers may see alcohol or drugs as a way to cope. However, substance abuse only further complicates the situation and damages mental health.

Getting Help for PTSD

For understanding PTSD, it is important to realize that it is not an isolated condition. As you can see, the combination of trauma and depression can not only create PTSD, it can make the symptoms even worse. However, there is hope through treatment and counseling.

Therapy can help PTSD sufferers find closure from the trauma, but it will not be an easy task because of all the complicating factors. Yet, once achieved, it causes the brain to reclassify those memories as being in the distant past. Thus, whatever happened back then no longer poses a threat.

Yes, with patience and guidance, it is possible to resolve PTSD and to gain control over these issues.

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