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Depression common in those with PTSD

Updated: June 6, 2013 03:02 PM EDT
Image courtesy of US Army / Sgt. 1st Class Michael Guillory Image courtesy of US Army / Sgt. 1st Class Michael Guillory

THURSDAY, June 6 (HealthDay News) -- 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 percent of them also had symptoms of depression.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that usually stems from a traumatic event, and its symptoms include avoidance behaviors 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 percent to 80 percent of people with PTSD also had depression.

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 June 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 underdiagnosis and undertreatment of a major depressive disorder," Rytwinski said.

More information

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

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