How are anxiety symptoms related to PTSD?

Many people with PTSD experience worrying, fear, and sleep problems. These may disrupt daily functioning, but may not meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder. They may be associated directly with the trauma itself, such as being diagnosed with a physical illness or being exposed to forced displacement or war. They may also be aggravated by other, core symptoms of PTSD, including emotional distressphysical reactivity after exposure to reminders, and upsetting memories, nightmares, and flashbacks. This topic concentrates on the presence and severity of subclinical anxiety symptoms in people with PTSD. Please also see the related disorder topic that is located under the co-occurring mental disorders category.

What is the evidence for anxiety in people with PTSD?

Moderate to high quality finds a medium association between more severe PTSD symptoms and increased levels of anxiety. This association was found in North Korean refugees and in cancer patients. There was also a medium association found between more severe PTSD symptoms and more anxiety sensitivity. This sensitivity relates to fear of the physical sensations associated with anxiety, fear of cognitive incapacitation, and fear of social or public observation of anxiety.

August 2021

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Last updated at: 5:58 am, 7th October 2021
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Fact Sheet Technical Commentary
Tags:  Anxiety

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