New research suggests that half of the people diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also suffer symptoms of depression.
The Case Western Reserve analysis also concludes that both genders diagnosed with PTSD equally suffer from depression.
The finding is somewhat controversial because women tend to report more symptoms of depression and would seemingly have a higher rate of depression associated with PTSD. Also, many believe that women are more inclined to struggle with both PTSD and depression.
The findings were based on an analysis of 57 peer-reviewed studies, representing data on 6,670 people (civilians and military personnel) who suffered from PTSD.
Investigators say the study is the first to perform a comprehensive analysis of peer-reviewed literature on people with PTSD and major depressive disorder (MDD). Researchers concluded that 52 percent of the PTSD cases also reported symptoms of depression.
Before the study, estimates for individuals having both major depression disorder (MDD) and PTSD had ranged anywhere from 20 to 80 percent.
The analysis is published in the online issue of The Journal of Traumatic Stress.
PTSD is an anxiety disorder resulting from a traumatic incident in which flashbacks or unshakable thoughts about the trauma are common.
Depression is characterized by an overwhelming and lingering sense of sadness and hopelessness. Symptoms can range from “feeling blue” to thoughts of suicide.
“If individuals do not get a comprehensive assessment of what’s bothering them, one or the other can be missed,” said Case Western Reserve research associate Nina Rytwinski, Ph.D., the study’s lead author. “This high co-occurrence rate accentuates the importance of routinely assessing for both disorders.”
The findings also suggest important implications for improving how men with PTSD are treated.
Health-care providers tend to identify depression more frequently in women, while men can exhibit symptoms of depression that are misattributed to PTSD, Rytwinski said.
“The biases against men with PTSD symptoms put them at risk for under-diagnosis and under-treatment of a major depressive disorder,” she said.
For the study, researchers began with 1,500 studies on PTSD and MDD and narrowed the review to the 57 published referred studies. They focused on research about individuals who had experienced some physical or sexual assault trauma.
Researchers hope that by understanding how frequently people experience both disorders, clinicians may better address barriers to completing therapy, personalized treatment and overall care, the researchers report.
Source: Case Western University