PTSD and Other Conditions

Reviewed Sep 20, 2017

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Summary

  • PTSD is often accompanied by other disorders, such as drug or alcohol use, depression, sleep problems, and suicide risk.
  • You may have other conditions, such as brain injury or chronic pain, brought on by the same trauma that led to PTSD.

Trauma can lead to a number of problems. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is just one of these. People who have experienced trauma often have PTSD and one or more issues that often go with it, such as depression and/or a substance use disorder. They may also have physical health problems that may spring from PTSD or are caused by the trauma itself.

Cause and effect are not always clear. If you have PTSD and depression, for instance, you may have felt the depression first. The main thing is to treat both appropriately.

PTSD-linked disorders

People with PTSD are diagnosed at a higher than normal rate of certain mental issues than those without the diagnosis. One study found that 48 percent of men with PTSD had major depression at some point, compared to only 12 percent of men without PTSD. The difference was also large for women—49 percent to 19 percent. In both sexes, people with PTSD had more anxiety, panic disorder, phobias, and drug or alcohol use disorders. Sleep disorders are common with PTSD. Suicide risk is also higher.

These “comorbid conditions,” as they are called, can feed on each other. Substance use and sleep disorders can make it hard to keep a job. This can make depression worse and lead to more “self-medicating” with alcohol or drugs. Close relationships may fray. With them go lifelines to help and emotional support.

These issues also can make symptoms of PTSD worse. A key PTSD symptom is “hyper-arousal”—the feeling of being always on edge. You might drink alcohol to calm down, but drinking too much causes other problems. As the National Center for PTSD notes, “using too much alcohol can get in the way of restful sleep.” So drinking worsens the PTSD symptom of disturbed sleep. You might also drink with the view that you can squelch the symptoms enough to avoid treatment. This just prolongs the PTSD.

Depression also can make it harder to treat PTSD. One mark of depression is a feeling of futility: Nothing you do can make you better; you might as well give up. To heal from the symptoms of PTSD, you need to go into treatment with the knowledge that it is likely to work. If depression is getting in the way of hope, you may have to treat that as well.

Trauma’s many wounds

Trauma can cause serious problems apart from PTSD. These can make symptoms of PTSD harder to treat.

Chronic pain can come from the painful event or some other cause. Survivors of combat injury, car crashes, physical or sexual assault may have this chronic pain along with PTSD. Left untreated, it can make PTSD worse. For instance, it can serve as a reminder of the trauma—a trigger. It also can raise the risk of drug addiction.

Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is a condition that resembles PTSD in many ways. It’s caused by traumatic brain injury (TBI), often in combat. This, of course, can be the same trauma that causes PTSD. PCS can lead to sleep problems, depression, anxiety or outbursts of anger. Such symptoms can make it hard to tell what is wrong. The good news is that treatments shown to work with PTSD, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, work for PCS symptoms as well. And PCS is usually temporary.

Taking a toll on the body

It is well known that people with PTSD are prone to physical illness, especially heart disease. Why this is so is not exactly clear. PTSD may lead to poor physical health indirectly, through related problems such as anxiety, depression and anger. It also can hurt physical health if it leads to substance use or other poor health habits. PTSD and physical illness may also have a common source: your genes may make you prone to both.

But PTSD may cause illness directly. A research article from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs tells how this might happen: The hyper-arousal of PTSD creates a “fight or flight” response. The heart speeds up, arteries constrict and blood pressure goes up. Blood platelets get stickier (to make clotting of wounds easier). Glucose is pumped into the bloodstream for quick energy. All this is designed to help the body get away from danger or survive injury. Repeated over and over, it hurts arteries and weakens the heart.

Eating disorders are often associated with PTSD, especially if the trauma was sexual in nature. Eating disorders can cause electrolyte imbalances, cardiac and kidney damage, and can be life-threatening.

The bottom line is that living with PTSD is not good for you. By treating it, you improve your prospects for better physical and mental health.

Resources

Several articles are available online about links between PTSD and heart disease. They are:
“Heart-Mind Mystery: Unraveling the Link between PTSD and Heart Disease” (2014 VA Research article): www.research.va.gov/currents/spring2014/spring2014-1.cfm

“Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Cardiovascular Disease,” by Steven S. Coughlin, Open Cardiovasc Med J. 2011; 5: 164–170: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3141329/

By Tom Gray
Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Posttraumatic-Stress-Disorder; National Center for PTSD, www.ptsd.va.gov/public/problems/index.asp; Office of Research & Development, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Reviewed by Cynthia Scott, MD, Physician Advisor, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • PTSD is often accompanied by other disorders, such as drug or alcohol use, depression, sleep problems, and suicide risk.
  • You may have other conditions, such as brain injury or chronic pain, brought on by the same trauma that led to PTSD.

Trauma can lead to a number of problems. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is just one of these. People who have experienced trauma often have PTSD and one or more issues that often go with it, such as depression and/or a substance use disorder. They may also have physical health problems that may spring from PTSD or are caused by the trauma itself.

Cause and effect are not always clear. If you have PTSD and depression, for instance, you may have felt the depression first. The main thing is to treat both appropriately.

PTSD-linked disorders

People with PTSD are diagnosed at a higher than normal rate of certain mental issues than those without the diagnosis. One study found that 48 percent of men with PTSD had major depression at some point, compared to only 12 percent of men without PTSD. The difference was also large for women—49 percent to 19 percent. In both sexes, people with PTSD had more anxiety, panic disorder, phobias, and drug or alcohol use disorders. Sleep disorders are common with PTSD. Suicide risk is also higher.

These “comorbid conditions,” as they are called, can feed on each other. Substance use and sleep disorders can make it hard to keep a job. This can make depression worse and lead to more “self-medicating” with alcohol or drugs. Close relationships may fray. With them go lifelines to help and emotional support.

These issues also can make symptoms of PTSD worse. A key PTSD symptom is “hyper-arousal”—the feeling of being always on edge. You might drink alcohol to calm down, but drinking too much causes other problems. As the National Center for PTSD notes, “using too much alcohol can get in the way of restful sleep.” So drinking worsens the PTSD symptom of disturbed sleep. You might also drink with the view that you can squelch the symptoms enough to avoid treatment. This just prolongs the PTSD.

Depression also can make it harder to treat PTSD. One mark of depression is a feeling of futility: Nothing you do can make you better; you might as well give up. To heal from the symptoms of PTSD, you need to go into treatment with the knowledge that it is likely to work. If depression is getting in the way of hope, you may have to treat that as well.

Trauma’s many wounds

Trauma can cause serious problems apart from PTSD. These can make symptoms of PTSD harder to treat.

Chronic pain can come from the painful event or some other cause. Survivors of combat injury, car crashes, physical or sexual assault may have this chronic pain along with PTSD. Left untreated, it can make PTSD worse. For instance, it can serve as a reminder of the trauma—a trigger. It also can raise the risk of drug addiction.

Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is a condition that resembles PTSD in many ways. It’s caused by traumatic brain injury (TBI), often in combat. This, of course, can be the same trauma that causes PTSD. PCS can lead to sleep problems, depression, anxiety or outbursts of anger. Such symptoms can make it hard to tell what is wrong. The good news is that treatments shown to work with PTSD, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, work for PCS symptoms as well. And PCS is usually temporary.

Taking a toll on the body

It is well known that people with PTSD are prone to physical illness, especially heart disease. Why this is so is not exactly clear. PTSD may lead to poor physical health indirectly, through related problems such as anxiety, depression and anger. It also can hurt physical health if it leads to substance use or other poor health habits. PTSD and physical illness may also have a common source: your genes may make you prone to both.

But PTSD may cause illness directly. A research article from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs tells how this might happen: The hyper-arousal of PTSD creates a “fight or flight” response. The heart speeds up, arteries constrict and blood pressure goes up. Blood platelets get stickier (to make clotting of wounds easier). Glucose is pumped into the bloodstream for quick energy. All this is designed to help the body get away from danger or survive injury. Repeated over and over, it hurts arteries and weakens the heart.

Eating disorders are often associated with PTSD, especially if the trauma was sexual in nature. Eating disorders can cause electrolyte imbalances, cardiac and kidney damage, and can be life-threatening.

The bottom line is that living with PTSD is not good for you. By treating it, you improve your prospects for better physical and mental health.

Resources

Several articles are available online about links between PTSD and heart disease. They are:
“Heart-Mind Mystery: Unraveling the Link between PTSD and Heart Disease” (2014 VA Research article): www.research.va.gov/currents/spring2014/spring2014-1.cfm

“Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Cardiovascular Disease,” by Steven S. Coughlin, Open Cardiovasc Med J. 2011; 5: 164–170: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3141329/

By Tom Gray
Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Posttraumatic-Stress-Disorder; National Center for PTSD, www.ptsd.va.gov/public/problems/index.asp; Office of Research & Development, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Reviewed by Cynthia Scott, MD, Physician Advisor, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • PTSD is often accompanied by other disorders, such as drug or alcohol use, depression, sleep problems, and suicide risk.
  • You may have other conditions, such as brain injury or chronic pain, brought on by the same trauma that led to PTSD.

Trauma can lead to a number of problems. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is just one of these. People who have experienced trauma often have PTSD and one or more issues that often go with it, such as depression and/or a substance use disorder. They may also have physical health problems that may spring from PTSD or are caused by the trauma itself.

Cause and effect are not always clear. If you have PTSD and depression, for instance, you may have felt the depression first. The main thing is to treat both appropriately.

PTSD-linked disorders

People with PTSD are diagnosed at a higher than normal rate of certain mental issues than those without the diagnosis. One study found that 48 percent of men with PTSD had major depression at some point, compared to only 12 percent of men without PTSD. The difference was also large for women—49 percent to 19 percent. In both sexes, people with PTSD had more anxiety, panic disorder, phobias, and drug or alcohol use disorders. Sleep disorders are common with PTSD. Suicide risk is also higher.

These “comorbid conditions,” as they are called, can feed on each other. Substance use and sleep disorders can make it hard to keep a job. This can make depression worse and lead to more “self-medicating” with alcohol or drugs. Close relationships may fray. With them go lifelines to help and emotional support.

These issues also can make symptoms of PTSD worse. A key PTSD symptom is “hyper-arousal”—the feeling of being always on edge. You might drink alcohol to calm down, but drinking too much causes other problems. As the National Center for PTSD notes, “using too much alcohol can get in the way of restful sleep.” So drinking worsens the PTSD symptom of disturbed sleep. You might also drink with the view that you can squelch the symptoms enough to avoid treatment. This just prolongs the PTSD.

Depression also can make it harder to treat PTSD. One mark of depression is a feeling of futility: Nothing you do can make you better; you might as well give up. To heal from the symptoms of PTSD, you need to go into treatment with the knowledge that it is likely to work. If depression is getting in the way of hope, you may have to treat that as well.

Trauma’s many wounds

Trauma can cause serious problems apart from PTSD. These can make symptoms of PTSD harder to treat.

Chronic pain can come from the painful event or some other cause. Survivors of combat injury, car crashes, physical or sexual assault may have this chronic pain along with PTSD. Left untreated, it can make PTSD worse. For instance, it can serve as a reminder of the trauma—a trigger. It also can raise the risk of drug addiction.

Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is a condition that resembles PTSD in many ways. It’s caused by traumatic brain injury (TBI), often in combat. This, of course, can be the same trauma that causes PTSD. PCS can lead to sleep problems, depression, anxiety or outbursts of anger. Such symptoms can make it hard to tell what is wrong. The good news is that treatments shown to work with PTSD, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, work for PCS symptoms as well. And PCS is usually temporary.

Taking a toll on the body

It is well known that people with PTSD are prone to physical illness, especially heart disease. Why this is so is not exactly clear. PTSD may lead to poor physical health indirectly, through related problems such as anxiety, depression and anger. It also can hurt physical health if it leads to substance use or other poor health habits. PTSD and physical illness may also have a common source: your genes may make you prone to both.

But PTSD may cause illness directly. A research article from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs tells how this might happen: The hyper-arousal of PTSD creates a “fight or flight” response. The heart speeds up, arteries constrict and blood pressure goes up. Blood platelets get stickier (to make clotting of wounds easier). Glucose is pumped into the bloodstream for quick energy. All this is designed to help the body get away from danger or survive injury. Repeated over and over, it hurts arteries and weakens the heart.

Eating disorders are often associated with PTSD, especially if the trauma was sexual in nature. Eating disorders can cause electrolyte imbalances, cardiac and kidney damage, and can be life-threatening.

The bottom line is that living with PTSD is not good for you. By treating it, you improve your prospects for better physical and mental health.

Resources

Several articles are available online about links between PTSD and heart disease. They are:
“Heart-Mind Mystery: Unraveling the Link between PTSD and Heart Disease” (2014 VA Research article): www.research.va.gov/currents/spring2014/spring2014-1.cfm

“Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Cardiovascular Disease,” by Steven S. Coughlin, Open Cardiovasc Med J. 2011; 5: 164–170: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3141329/

By Tom Gray
Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Posttraumatic-Stress-Disorder; National Center for PTSD, www.ptsd.va.gov/public/problems/index.asp; Office of Research & Development, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Reviewed by Cynthia Scott, MD, Physician Advisor, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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