Everyone feels sad at times, especially when difficult events occur. For many, that sadness often becomes overwhelming when coupled with a diminished interest in activities you love, unexplained fatigue, sleeping too much (or too little), and unexplained changes in weight or appetite. Worldwide, more than 264 million people of all ages, from all walks of life, experience depression. For veterans, depression often goes hand in hand with PTSD.
What is Depression?
Depression is a common medical illness that affects the way you think, feel, and act. Someone who is experiencing depression has one or more of the following symptoms for more than 2 weeks:
- Sadness or feeling "down" or "blue"
- A loss of interest in activities or things you once liked to do
- Changes to your appetites
- Sleeping too much, insomnia, or restless sleep
- Slowed movements or speech or an increase in activity that doesn't serve a purpose.
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Trouble making decisions, concentrating or talking
- Thoughts of suicide or preoccupation with death
PTSD & Depression
Almost half of all people who experience PTSD will also experience depression. What's more, even after PTSD subsides, someone who has experienced it in the past is three to five times more likely to develop depression at another point in their lives. In both PTSD and depression, treatment is focused on managing symptoms and helping to restore a person's quality of life. Fortunately, there is a lot of overlap in the way PTSD and depression are treated.
PTSD & Depression Treatments
Many people who suffer from both PTSD and depression will require a cross-disciplinary treatment plan. In some cases, antidepressant medication may be prescribed to offer immediate relief from symptoms. Medication, coupled with talk therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or support groups can offer a better quality of life for those who suffer from both conditions.
Depression is not a sign of weakness
Like PTSD, depression is not a sign of weakness, nor is it a flaw in your character. It is a mental illness. Like any illness, it requires careful treatment so the brain can heal. It is never too late to seek help for depression related to PTSD. The National Center for PTSD is committed to offering treatment to veterans in their communities. Visit ptsd.va.gov for more information or to find treatment options near you.