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Is There a Relationship Between PTSD and Depression?

TMS Annapolis Experts, the Pysch Associates of Maryland, Explore How These Mental Health Disorders are Connected

Sadness and anger are common human emotions that everyone experiences. However, these negative emotions are sometimes indicative of a serious mental illness. For instance, people whose moods disrupt their normal manner of living may have depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some patients might even be struggling with both conditions. In our latest blog post, TMS Annapolis experts — the Psych Associates of Maryland — explore the relationship between these two mental health disorders. 

TMS Annapolis Experts Explain How PTSD and Depression Are Connected

A Guide to the Relationship Between These Emotionally Draining Illnesses

two people holding hands

It is possible for a physician to diagnose a patient with both PTSD and depression. In fact, depression is one of the most common co-occurring mental health disorders in patients with PTSD. Out of a group of subjects that were diagnosed with PTSD, 48 to 55% of them also experienced depression. So how does this happen? The TMS Annapolis experts from Psych Associates of Maryland explains how. 

This relationship between PTSD and depression can manifest in a variety of ways in patients:

  • Symptoms of PTSD can also increase one’s risk of developing depression. Traumatic events can cause someone to develop PTSD. As this person deals with the numerous symptoms that can result from PTSD, such as mood swings or negative thoughts, they face a higher chance of developing depression as a result. 
  • Genetics can be a risk factor for both mental health disorders. Family history and genetics may also increase one’s risk of developing PTSD and/or depression. Many patients with depression have close relatives who were also diagnosed with the disorder. Some research has also suggested that some people might have a genetic predisposition for PTSD
  • People with either PTSD or depression have trouble finding joy in activities they once enjoyed. People with PTSD often experience negative emotions such as loneliness and sadness. This can contribute to feelings of depression as well as the debilitation of one’s normal way of living. 

Common Causes and Symptoms of PTSD and Depression

TMS Annapolis Experts Provide a Quick Overview of the Most Common Causes and Symptoms of PTSD and Depression

two friends leaning on each other

While these mental health disorders do coincide in some cases, it is important to know how to distinguish the two of them from each other. Sometimes, people with depression and PTSD exhibit similar symptoms to each other. However, the causes behind these symptoms often vary. That’s why TMS Annapolis experts — Pysch Associates of Maryland — are there to break down the different causes and symptoms of PTSD and depression. 

Causes and Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD is commonly associated with people struggling with anxiety and flashbacks of traumatic events. When some people think of PTSD, they think of injured soldiers returning from active combat zones. But PTSD can affect anyone, especially if they have gone through an emotionally devastating experience such as a car crash or an attack. Victims of sexual assault, a natural disaster, war, and domestic violence are also at risk of developing PTSD.


Symptoms of PTSD do not normally appear right after a traumatic event has occurred. Instead, they can appear weeks — and even months — later.

Some of the most common symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Re-experiencing unwanted memories and flashbacks
  • Attempting to avoid discussing or thinking about the event by staying away from people or places that remind them of it
  • Becoming hypervigilant and easy to startle
  • Acting angry or irrational
  • Constantly struggling with negative thoughts and emotions

Causes and Symptoms of Depression

Depression can also result from a traumatic event. Medical problems, medications, genetic vulnerabilities, and faulty mood regulation by the brain can also cause depression. 

Common symptoms of depression include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Experiencing irregular sleep patterns
  • Loss of interest in activities they once found enjoyable
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
  • Constant fatigue or restlessness
  • Weight loss or gain due to a change in appetite 

Diagnosing PTSD and Depression

In order to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, a person must have experienced a traumatic event while also exhibiting the following symptoms for at least a month. They must also significantly impair one’s ability to function regularly. 

  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Avoidance
  • Changes in one’s startle response
  • A negative shift in one’s mood

Patients who are diagnosed with depression must exhibit at least five of the common symptoms of the mental health disorder within a 2-week period or longer. 

Treatment Options for PTSD and Depression 

Patients Have a High Number of Treatment Options to Improve Their Mental Health 

person writing a note

If you are struggling with depression or PTSD, it is imperative that you seek professional treatment as soon as possible. The sooner you are able to receive help, the sooner you are able to start healing. 

Patients with depression or PTSD have a wide array of treatment options available to them:

  • Prescription Medication: Anti-depressants and sleep aids can be prescribed for both depression and PTSD patients 
  • Psychotherapy: Talk therapy or CBT helps patients learn how to cope with their feelings and express their thoughts
  • TMS: Transcranial magnetic stimulation is sometimes used to treat symptoms of depression in different patients
  • Group Therapy and Support Groups: Support groups can be a great opportunity for patients to learn from people who have dealt with similar struggles and experiences as them

As you discuss your individual treatment plan with your primary care physician, it can be helpful to remain informed of these options. 


Are you or a loved one struggling with PTSD and depression? Help is out there. Contact TMS Annapolis experts, the Psych Associates of Maryland, to schedule an appointment today.

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