Is it possible to have other illnesses as well as PTSD?

People suffering from PTSD often suffer from other illnesses. The illnesses most commonly associated PTSD are: Depression, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia), Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Substance Abuse.

Treatment usually becomes more difficult the more illnesses a person suffers from, but don't be discouraged, there are treatment options that can the different disorders associated with PTSD at same time.

A word about Depression

Depression is the most common psychiatric disorder associated with PTSD. Although everyone gets "depressed" from time-to-time, usually these feelings short-lived and our moods improve as situations change. We get back to being our "old selves". Yet for many people, the symptoms of Depression are more severe and last much longer. People with PTSD often become depressed because they are constantly reliving the traumatic event; they often have negative feelings when they are reminded of event, and over time this can have a profound effect on the person's ability to function normally.

Depression is very different from "feeling down" or "having the blues". If left untreated for long periods, Depression can seriously affect sleep patterns, appetite, energy levels, and physical well-being, Negative thoughts, a sense of helplessness or hopelessness, and always feeling sad, are symptoms people suffering from Depression.

Some things to look for if you think you may be suffering from depression are:

  • Changes in your mood: you are bothered by small things, feel sad all the time or take less pleasure in things you once enjoyed
  • Changes in your physical well-being: increase or decrease in appetite and weight, trouble sleeping or waking up, low energy levels, lack of motivation, headaches, constipation or general aches and pains
  • Changes in your thought patterns: negative thoughts, trouble concentrating or paying attention, feelings of helplessness or hopelessness, guilt or pessimism

Fortunately, there are treatments for both PTSD and Depression. Talk to your doctor about treatments that can help you overcome the symptoms of these illnesses.

A word about Panic Disorder

People with PTSD rarely have full-blown Panic Disorder, however it is not uncommon for many PTSD patients to experience panic attacks. During a panic attack people may feel dizzy or faint, their heart may begin to beat rapidly, they may experience a shortness of breath or the feeling that they are being smothered. Their stomachs may become upset. They may begin to shake or tremble uncontrollably. In some cases a person having a panic attack may have chest pains. People with PTSD may experience panic attacks when people, places, conversations, or things remind them of their traumatic event.

The symptoms of a panic attack vary from person to person, it is important that you describe all of your symptoms so that your doctor can make an accurate diagnosis.

A word about Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

It is almost impossible to go through a single day without seeing or talking to another person. But for the thousands of people suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder the thought of having to interact with others is frightening. Those suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder are afraid that they may do or say something "stupid" or "embarrassing" in front of others. They often avoid eating, drinking or writing in public places because of the fear that they may lose control in some way and do something to embarrass themselves. Social Anxiety Disorder patients often go out of their way to avoid many different social situations. They often experience a great deal of anxiety prior to a known upcoming social or public event, which often leads to irrational thoughts about losing control, which, in turn, causes them to fear the situation even more.

However, as with Panic Disorder, a person with PTSD rarely develops full-blown Social Anxiety Disorder. More often than not, a person with PTSD will avoid places that remind them of the traumatic event.

Don't be discouraged; there are medications and people who can help. Always talk to your doctor about all your symptoms and how they make you feel.

A word about Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Although everyone worries about one thing or another at different times in their lives, these worries generally do not interfere with their day-to-day routines or bother them for very long. But for those suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), everyday problems become a source of constant anxiety and worry that takes over their lives. For some, there is a constant fear that something "bad" will happen at any moment. People suffering from this disorder usually expect the worst, worrying excessively about money, health, family or work, even when there are no signs of trouble.

Many sufferers are plagued with severe muscle tension in their neck, back, and shoulders. Other physical symptoms often accompanying GAD include trembling, twitching, headaches, irritability, sweating, and in some cases, hot flashes. GAD patients often have trouble concentrating, tend to feel tired all the time, and may startle easily. Most people with GAD are unable to relax and may suffer from insomnia. It is not unusual for GAD sufferers to have difficulty keeping a job, staying in relationships, or maintaining friendships.

Unlike people with pure GAD, who worry about everyday things, people with PTSD and GAD often worry about things related to the traumatic event. They often worry that the traumatic event will occur again or that it will happen to family and friends.

A word about Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Many people suffering from PTSD will turn to drugs and alcohol as a way of dealing and coping with the distressing memories from their traumatic experience. It is important to understand that drugs and alcohol often make anxiety and depression symptoms much worse. The long-term effects of drug or alcohol abuse can be very damaging to your physical and mental health.

When talking to your doctor, be honest about any drug or alcohol use. Drugs and alcohol can seriously affect the treatment your doctor may prescribe for you and can lead to dangerous side effects.