I am a veteran who suffers from PTSD and some neurological problems. I have worked through a regimen of cognitive behavioral therapy (which helped a lot!) and took a low does of Citalopram for depression until relatively recently.
Several weeks ago I underwent a sleep study with the Veterans Administration to test for sleep apnea. This is the second time I've taken this test and I've already been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, but my doc wanted me to do it again. Yesterday I got my results and a slightly new diagnosis. I am now diagnosed with moderate to severe sleep apnea and periodic limb movement disorder. (PLMD means my leg twitches and I kick at regular intervals through the night. The cause is not known.)
I told you that to tell you this - my doctor says that sleep apnea can make the symptoms of PTSD significantly worse. If I understand correctly, when the sleep apnea kicks in I stop breathing for a time. That creates a panic response in the brain, triggering nightmares and panic attacks. This is all new to me, but I've since read some things on-line to back it up.
I wanted to share this in case there is anyone else out there who suffers from both PTSD and sleep disorders. There is increasing research suggesting that taking care of the sleep problems will have a very positive effect on the PTSD symptoms.
Published On: February 08, 2011