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Is PTSD An Anxiety Disorder?

Is PTSD An Anxiety Disorder

Is PTSD an anxiety disorder?

According to the NIH, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is considered an anxiety disorder and is considered one of the major types in this class along with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (OCD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, and Social Anxiety Disorder.

However, recent research and discussions have shown that post-traumatic stress disorder has moved away from being considered strictly an anxiety disorder and has now become a distinct class in and of itself. This is highlighted by the categorical change in the DSM V, a taxonomic handbook used to diagnose mental disorders. PTSD has moved categories from an Anxiety Disorder to a Trauma- and Stress-Related Disorder. 

As the landscape continues to change and new research further progresses, the simple fact remains that PTSD shares some similar features with anxiety disorders.

What is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder?

PTSD is a mental health condition that occurs after suddenly experiencing or repeatedly witnessing a traumatic event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury to self or others. These may include a serious car accident, sexual or physical assault, war, life-threatening illnesses, natural disasters, or the death of someone close to you.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

ptsd symptoms

Symptoms vary in severity but will create issues or distress at home, work, and socially. They will last for longer than one month and tend to include:

  • Persistently re-experiencing the traumatic event through flashbacks, nightmares, unwanted memories
  • Physical or emotional reaction after being triggered or reminded of the incident
  • Avoidance of thoughts, details, people, places, or situations associated with the event (traumatic event avoidance symptoms)
  • Feeling isolated, thinking negatively, blaming oneself, losing interest in activities
  • Irritability or aggression, difficulty concentrating or sleeping
  • On guard, easily startled, more nervous

How is it treated?

Not everyone who experiences traumatic events develops PTSD. For those that do, some people find that symptoms diminish over time or that their healing works best through a support network. Though, others find that this is not enough. Therefore, it is important to speak with mental health professionals to get a proper diagnosis and treatment for PTSD.

Treatment includes psychotherapy, which involves varying types of evidence-based therapy performed in a safe and controlled setting. This therapy aims to work through painful memories and emotions. Some specific therapies for those who develop PTSD include:

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) – helps to process the event by learning coping skills and utilizing eye movements while focusing on positive beliefs
  • Prolonged Exposure Therapy – helps to teach ways to move past their emotions and memories by confronting them slowly and with guidance

Other treatment options for post-traumatic stress disorder also include pharmacotherapy. Current evidence-based medicine shows that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), an antidepressant class of medications, are beneficial in decreasing the symptoms and relapse rates. Therefore, it is recommended that people work closely with their provider to determine the most proper medication, as efficacy and tolerability vary greatly between people.

ptsd treatment

To learn about the diagnosis and treatment for PTSD, read our guide here.

If you or someone you know is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental health problems, schedule an appointment with a PNS provider for professional medical advice and treatment


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