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Does PTSD Create Anxiety

Does PTSD Create Anxiety or the Other Way Around?

PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) are two different mental health issues which are often linked as sufferers can easily have both conditions. However, there is an idea that having PTSD will always lead to GAD or vice versa. We investigate whether this is the correct way to think about things.

Understanding GAD

GAD is not simply worrying about things – everyone worries from time to time, but that doesn’t mean they have an anxiety disorder. GAD is worrying to excess about events or fears, and the worry tends to last six months or more.

GAD cannot be controlled, and even if the object of the worry passes, the sufferer’s mind will switch that anxiety to something else. It might even be something that they wouldn’t normally be concerned with at all, or that most people would consider not to be a problem.

Symptoms of GAD include:
  • Restlessness
  • Being on edge all the time
  • Being unable to concentrate
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Muscle aches
  • Poor sleep or difficulty in getting to sleep
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty in carrying out everyday activities

The Relationship Between PTSD and Anxiety

It is suggested that around one in every six people who have PTSD will also suffer from GAD. The numbers work out that this means the rate of GAD in those who have PTSD is about six times higher than in the general population (i.e. in people without PTSD). So, there does seem to be a link, although whether one condition directly causes the other is still being studied.

One of the major symptoms of PTSD is worrying about the future and concern over the past. It might be that, since your emotions are heightened when suffering from PTSD, this worry can, over time, become excessive, and cause you to suffer from GAD at the same time.

Interestingly, however, those with PTSD can sometimes use worrying as a way of coping with their condition. So, it’s not an unusual thing for people with PTSD to find that worrying about something that has nothing to do with their trauma is a good way for them to be distracted from their true troubles. This might mean that GAD comes about through the PTSD sufferer’s ‘choice’ to worry about anything other than the one thing that concerns them the most and triggers their PTSD.

Also, trauma is the reason for PTSD to start, but it can also be a trigger for GAD as you will constantly be worrying that something similar will happen again. So, although GAD doesn’t have to come from trauma, when it does it is likely that PTSD will develop as well.

A Similar Treatment Option for Both PTSD and Anxiety

The stellate ganglion block for PTSD has been found to be effective in reducing the symptoms of PTSD, including anxiety. Both anxiety and PTSD work with similar mechanics in that the sympathetic nervous system is overactivated and causes the ‘fight or flight’ response to be turned on. Increased levels of adrenaline cause an anxiety response, also recognized in PTSD.

The SGB for PTSD can help to decrease anxiety and other symptoms of PTSD. Want to know if this PTSD injection treatment is right for you? Give us a call and our SGB doctor will let you know!

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