If you have PTSD it is very important to look out for signs and symptoms of depression. PTSD and depression commonly occur together, depression can often ensue as a result of the symptoms of PTSD because the symptoms can be so debilitating. These two psychological issues can be a diabolical duo of destruction on your life- if you let them be that way. Depression can interfere with treatment of your PTSD, it can make people more inclined to discontinue getting help as well as make it more difficult to engage in cognitive behavioral treatments for PTSD such as exposure exercises. I’m not gonna beat around the bush, depression coupled with PTSD sucks and makes life hard to deal with; however, the good news is you can still come out on top.
There is a 12-16 week method who researchers at the Flinders University in South Australia have developed which incorporates exposure therapy and cognitive processing therapy in conjunction with behavioral activation. Behavioral Activation has to do with the idea of people who are suffering from depression who do not come into contact with rewarding or positive events in their environment because they may be feeling so bad they avoid going out and interacting with the world, which in turn can make the depression linger and become even worse. The main goals of Behavioral Activation are to get people to raise their activity frequency (and help reduce as well as prevent avoidance behavior) and to help people get involved in rewarding positive activities which will also improve your mood as a result. The individual and the therapist come up with a list of activities the individual holds value in, such as being with friends and family or doing physical activities, then each week goals are set and the individual tracks their own progress as they accomplish these goals.
Researchers have discovered that the combined depression and PTSD treatment is a great success at reducing the symptoms of PTSD and depression. Of the people who finished the program, 85% no longer qualified as having depression and 70% no longer qualified as having PTSD. Those figures are INCREDIBLE. 3 months after treatment, not one individual had any symptoms of depression and nearly all of them no longer had PTSD. What these researchers have accomplished is nothing short of amazing in my opinion, most people take years upon years to deal with their PTSD-depression and some people battle with at least a portion of it for the entirety of their lives.
The study these Australian researchers conducted has shown the inherent benefit of this program for those who suffer from both PTSD and depression. If you are currently seeing a counselor or have been wanting to see a counselor, it would be very beneficial to ask if your therapist is familiar with behavioral activation. If they aren’t, you may want to consider finding one who is and ask them to use it to help treat your depression. You can’t argue with results, and for those of us who are struggling it is very encouraging to see a study so successful and to know there is a method to help relieve us from the plague that is PTSD and depression. Remember, you need to take care of you and this should be your number one priority. If you take care of yourself EVERYONE around you will benefit and if anyone is against you helping yourself, well, they aren’t worth the air they breathe or your time. Nothing is more important than you, now go out and start focusing on your own healing.