Depression

Updated 18 June 2013

Depression common in people with PTSD

More than half of people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder also suffer from depression, a new study has found.

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More than half of people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also suffer from depression, according to a new study.

Researchers reviewed the findings of 57 studies that included more than 6 600 civilians and military personnel who suffered from PTSD and found that 52% of them also had symptoms of depression.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that usually stems from a traumatic event, and its symptoms include avoidance behaviours and flashbacks to bad memories. In depressive disorders, people feel lingering and overwhelming sadness and hopelessness. Symptoms of depression can range from "feeling blue" to thoughts of suicide.

Previous estimates suggested that anywhere from 20% to 80% of people with PTSD also had depression.

Depression and PTSD

This new analysis also showed that rates of depression were similar among men and women with PTSD, said the researchers in Case Western Reserve University's department of psychological sciences.

The findings, published online in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, show the need to routinely assess patients for both depression and PTSD, the study authors said.

"If individuals do not get a comprehensive assessment of what's bothering them, one or the other can be missed," lead investigator Nina Rytwinski said in a university news release.

The findings also show the need to improve how men are treated. Doctors tend to identify depression more frequently in women, while symptoms of depression in men can be misattributed to PTSD.

"The biases against men with PTSD symptoms put them at risk for under diagnosis and under treatment of a major depressive disorder," Rytwinski said.

More information

The US National Institute of Mental Health has more about post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Michael Simpson has been a senior psychiatric academic, researcher, and Professor in several countries, having worked at London University in the UK; McMaster University in Canada; Temple University in Philadelphia, USA.; and the University of Natal in South Africa.

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