Did you know that PTSD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder are closely related? For example, “studies have shown that about 17 percent of people who have or have previously had PTSD experience GAD as well” (HHOsupport). What is the connection? Well, there are several overlapping symptoms between each condition that makes it difficult to determine which one you are experiencing. However, “co-occurrence may arise due to features of one disorder serving as risk factors for the development of the other” (Generalized Anxiety Disorder). Let me use my story as an example to show how these two diagnoses are linked.
I was first diagnosed with GAD at 14 after living with the condition my entire life. The medical community did not have near as much information on mental health conditions twenty years ago as they do today. This allowed for me to skate by, further strengthening the connections that anxiety was making in my brain. PTSD for me, comes from a number of different things. The emotional abuse from my narcissistic father, the death of my brother, the loss of my dogs, and dealing with the trauma of my chronic illnesses are big ones for me. My mind is essentially a nervous wreck.
The Hippocampus, one section of the brain that deals with memory and learning, is affected by both of these conditions. If we look at my story, I had 14 years to develop major structural changes to my brain before I was ever able to get treatment for my GAD. This alone makes it harder for me to go through something like the loss of a family member. That is explained by this statement that when one has, “a pre-existing tendency towards excessive worry and anxiety that can be magnified by witnessing a traumatic event” (Generalized Anxiety). So my GAD predisposed me to react in a way to trauma that one without this condition would not.
Now, I have had multiple severe traumas in my life. According to the statement cited above, I would have a greater chance of developing PTSD each time a new trauma happened. This is exactly what happened to me. A study about the effects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, “discovered that anxiety is reduced, and parts of the patients’ brains decrease in both volume and activity” (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). So if I had been able to get help from an earlier age, theoretically, my chances of developing PTSD would have been greatly reduced. This is a vital fact to consider in not only treating children with anxiety today, but adults as well.
As we have looked into the relationship between GAD and PTSD, where do we go from here? I could not find any specific study related to this, so I will theorize based on my own experience. Knowing how much I have improved from my initial diagnosed, it makes me wonder what would have changed if I had those resources growing up. I am able to manage my anxiety with techniques I learned and medication I take. This is why Mental Health and Mental Illness advocacy is important. Even though I had to experience horrible stuff in life, my joining in speaking up can help prevent that from happening to a future generation.
I appreciate you sticking with me. The past week has been hard for me both mentally and physically, so I had some decisions to make. Many of you know that I post regularly, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. However, I have decided to cut back to only two posting days a week. I will now be posting on Mondays and Thursdays. If you don’t want to miss out on the change of schedule, you can subscribe via email or through a WordPress account. I notify on all of my linked social media accounts as well. Again, I thank you for your patience and look forward to seeing you next time, my Un-imaginables!
“Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Can Change Your Brain Structure in Just a Few Weeks.” Spectator Health, 8 Feb. 2016, health.spectator.co.uk/cognitive-behavioural-therapy-can-change-your-brain-structure-in-just-a-few-weeks/.
“Generalized Anxiety Disorder vs. PTSD.” Dual Diagnosis, http://www.dualdiagnosis.org/generalized-anxiety-disorder/gad-vs-ptsd/.
HHOsupport. “The Link Between PTSD and Anxiety | Healthy Hemp Oil.com.” Healthy Hemp Oil, 9 Aug. 2018, healthyhempoil.com/ptsd-and-anxiety/.