Is PTSD More Anxiety or Depression?

Hello. Today I am going to talk about PTSD, post traumatic distress disorder. It was searched for by a Vietnam vet who is still suffering from it. Ah, my heart goes out to you and to all of you Nam vets who still suffer from this, and I want to thank you for your service and say, welcome home!

PTSD is becoming more well diagnosed for men and women who have been in combat. PTSD can strike people who were not in combat, also. It can develop for anyone who has been a victim or observer of trauma, including physical, sexual, and verbal. Symptoms include hyper-vigilance, or being acutely aware of what is going on around you at every instant in time. People with PTSD usually replay the incident(s) over and over in their mind. They are highly anxious and they are depressed.

To answer the question, is PTSD more anxiety or depression, for me, they were equal. And, the depression led to despair and hopelessness. I prayed to die at that point. I suffered PTSD from a physically abusive upbringing, being both the receiver and observer of traumatic acts. I dealt with the effects of it until I was 54 years of age, which was several years into sobriety.

PTSD was diagnosed for me after I was placed on medication for depression and I continued to be highly anxious. In fact, I was diagnosed with panic disorder, which I believe was from the PTSD. Today, for example, since finding my purpose in life and forgiving my parents for the abuse, I do not feel that hyper-vigilance, that anxiety, that panic.

What can one do who has PTSD? Well, you can seek help from a mental health clinic in your county, or see a psychiatrist. You can also see a person who administers EMDR, which stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. It is a specific movement of the eyes guided by a therapist trained in EMDR, and that is what helped me, in addition to talking to a therapist, and anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications. You can go to this site and this, for more information about treatment of PTSD.

So, PTSD can be equally demonstrated by high anxiety, as well as depression. It is a heck of a place in which to be, as one struggles with low energy, but has the need to watch what’s going on around them. It is exhausting because of this. There are answers, and I hope you, the Vietnam vet who searched for the phrase “is PTSD more anxiety or depression,” finds those answers and some comfort and solution in this post. You deserve peace in your life and I wish it for you.

 

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PTSD and the Vietnam Vet – Part 2 of 2

To continue from yesterday… we are talking about PTSD as it relates to the Vietnam vet. It probably relates to you if you are a veteran from another war, also. This information is based on an article I found on the web about PTSD, written by a Vietnam veteran. This is a terribly long post, and I am hopeful it will be useful to any of you veterans reading it.

First, though, I need to say what I was reminded by a Vietnam vet that I forgot to say to you yesterday, and that is the words, Welcome home. I am glad you made it and am hopeful you have and are resolving your difficulties associated with the war. Yes, I know these words are long overdue, and it is my first opportunity to say them to you publicly. I hope you will accept them.

The author of the article I found goes on to describe in detail the symptoms. Anger is the most prevalent. It is free-floating, with no real target. Everyone and everything become the cause of the anger. People with PTSD go right to rage, especially soldiers who are taught to react and not think about things. On the other hand, “normal” people experience a slow progression to rage… from anger, to angrier and angrier, to rage. Not so with the veteran.

People around you who are  displaying rage walk on eggshells, never knowing when you will “go off” on them. The author relays that a way to deal with this is to have conversations with all who are involved, talking about your anger and the effect it is having on others and yourself. He further claims that the way to deal with anger issues is to learn how to manage it, without trying to figure out the cause. Anger management classes are useful for this.

The author made a distinction between flashbacks and hallucinations, stating that flashbacks are reliving the events in your mind, while hallucinations are seeing things that are not there. These are common with those of you dealing with PTSD.

Fear is a common symptom, and it is often paranoia. Every action by those of you experiencing PTSD has fear attached to it. Dread is also common, especially dread about death. The author stated that there are so many Vietnam vets in prisons because the dread of death within 6 months was so strong, that they engaged in reckless behavior for the adrenaline rush, that it led to crime.

Hyper-vigilance is a big one. You Vietnam vets feel unsafe in public, the author states, because the American people became the enemy upon your return home. He makes the point that when you spent so much time securing an area and watching for “Charlie,” that you never stop watching for Charlie. You, as well as I, have a tendency to sit with your back to a wall, near exits.

When your anxiety level is increased, all PTSD symptoms increase. If you keep an eye on your anxiety levels, you will know when to call a friend, a therapist, or get to a hospital for help.

What is learned in combat is never lost, the author states, and, therefore, you vets have difficulty trusting people. You fear intimacy and yet need intimacy, as all of us do, and your inability to trust leads to superficial relationships, one night stands, multiple partners, and extramarital affairs.

Drug and alcohol abuse is very prevalent among you with PTSD, and unfortunately, PTSD symptoms are enhanced when using. You from Vietnam were the first who actually returned home already addicted, and that was a new thing for the VA to deal with. Alcohol, drugs, and the need for adrenaline rushes are a deadly combo and jails, prisons, and graveyards are filled with Vietnam vets so afflicted.

Sleep disorders are a common problem, as are night terrors, nightmares, and night sweats. The author relayed that most of you return to combat in your sleep… He didn’t really discuss a relief for those things other than learning how to manage PTSD in general.

Guilt is a biggie, as part of war is doing things you are not proud of. You are rewarded for your kills during war, and to come home and function as if nothing happened is a huge disconnect. He suggested talking about this to others. Survivor’s guilt is also a problem, as you feel that when something bad happens to you, like a failed marriage, loss of a job, or an accident, you deserve it.

“Why am I the one who lived?” is a common belief. To alleviate this, I suggest you consider that you were intended to live to be of service to others in some way or another. Perhaps, as you heal from your wounds, you are intended to share how you did that, so that others can benefit and heal themselves.

Memory loss that occurs to you, and to me big time, is related to damage and a loss of function in the hippocampus… the part of the brain that controls memory and learning. When I discovered this, I felt a huge relief about my memory loss.

Intrusive thoughts invade your life, the author says, and the way to deal with this is to stay busy with other tasks and projects. Helping others is especially useful to “get you out of yourself.”

It is not at all surprising that, given all the above things you are dealing with, that you experience depression. This can be controlled with nutrition, drug therapy, talk therapy, and being in a safe, loving environment.

To summarize, the triggers for your PTSD symptoms can be learned, as can the things to do that help you with those symptoms. The biggest thing the author stressed is to get it out… talk about it and feel the feelings. This is the first step to healing. Nutrition plays a big role, also. The bottom line is, controlling your symptoms with drinking and drugging is slow suicide and is avoidable.

Above all, the tone of this article was one of taking action and getting help. I hope you do that, and I wish you well on your continued journey.

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