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The Connection between PTSD and Mood Disorders


Updated December 15, 2011

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PTSD and mood disorders have been found to frequently occur together. Mood disorders can include major depression, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder. Mood disorders are very common in the general population and much more common among certain groups of people, such as people with PTSD. In addition, among people with a mood disorder, having PTSD can lead to a more severe presentation of the mood disorder and other negative outcomes (for example, substance use).

Given this, it is important to understand why these disorders may co-occur, as well as how to best address this co-occurrence.

Listed below are some articles that describe the relationship between PTSD and mood disorders, as well as PTSD and conditions that are associated with mood disorder (for example, sleep disturbances and suicidal ideation).

Definition of Major Depression

Before reviewing the relationship between PTSD and mood disorders, it is first important to have a better understanding of the different types of mood disorders and the unique symptoms that are associated with each. This article presents an overview of the symptoms of major depression, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - 4th edition (DSM-IV). In addition, the number of symptoms required for a diagnosis of major depression is also provided.

Definition of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is another mood disorder that used to be called manic-depression. There are two types of bipolar disorders -- bipolar I disorder and bipolar II disorder. The nature of manic symptoms and depression differentiate bipolar I and II disorder. This article presents an overview of each disorder and what it takes to be diagnosed with bipolar I or II disorder.

The Relationship between PTSD and Major Depression

Of all the mood disorders, major depression is one disorder that most commonly occurs among people with PTSD. In fact, studies have found that almost half of people who have had PTSD have also experienced depression. This article presents some basic information on depression, as well as ways in which PTSD and depression may be connected.

The Effect of PTSD When You Have Bipolar Disorder

Studies have found that anywhere between 11% to 39% of bipolar patients also meet criteria for PTSD. It is not entirely surprising that high rates of PTSD are found among people with bipolar disorder, as many people with bipolar also have a history of traumatic exposure. Bipolar disorder on its own can be associated with a wide range of negative consequences; however, when you add PTSD into the mix, the likelihood of negative outcomes increases. This article reviews some of these negative outcomes, as well as identifies ways in which you can get help if you have both disorders.

PTSD and Seasonal Affective Disorder

One mood disorder that is not as frequently talked about is seasonal affective disorder. No studies have examined the frequency with which seasonal affective disorder occurs in PTSD. However, given that people with PTSD may be more likely to develop mood disorders in general, if you have PTSD, it is important to keep an eye out for symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. This article presents some information on seasonal affective disorder, as well as what you can do if you think you have it.

PTSD and Suicide

Thoughts of suicide are a common symptom of both mood disorders and PTSD. Here you can learn more about the connection between the experience of a traumatic event and suicide, as well as where you can turn for help if you are experiencing thoughts of suicide.

Sleep Disturbances and PTSD

Many people with PTSD, regardless of whether or not they have a mood disorder, experience difficulties with sleeping. These difficulties are likely going to be worse if you have a mood disorder. People with mood disorders commonly experience sleep disturbances. They may have difficulties falling asleep or may sleep too much. Learn about different types of sleep problems and what may cause them in this article. The negative consequences of not getting enough sleep are also discussed.
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