PTSD Awareness Month
June is PTSD Awareness month, it is the time where we reflect on Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and the effect that it has on millions of Americans each year.
June 27th is the official day for PTSD Awareness. What started off as one day of awareness, eventually became a full month dedicated to PTSD and what we can do to help those that suffer from it.
It is a crippling disorder that can affect not only the individual but those around them as well. There are many different causes and symptoms that come with PTSD and while some individuals may be more prone to the disorder, anyone can be susceptible to it.
The Importance of PTSD Awareness Month and Day
According to The National Institute of Mental Health, around 6.8% of adults will experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at some point in their lives. It was estimated that 3.6% of Americans had PTSD just last year, a staggering number to hear.
It is important to know the numbers and the stats, this is one of the pieces of info that is shared during PTSD Awareness Month. The primary goal of PTSD Awareness Month and the Official day of awareness is to highlight the importance and severity of the disorder.
It is a mental disorder that affects millions of families each year, but with the right guidance and steps, together we can help victims of PTSD towards a happier and normal life.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental disorder that can develop after a traumatic event, usually one that is much more intense and disturbing than a typical stressor. The symptoms and effects differ with each person and vary in degree.
Causes of PTSD
PTSD can affect a person if they have experienced a traumatic and/or intense experience of some kind. PTSD can stem from a number of different traumatic events, some of these include:
- Sexual Assault
- Child Abuse
- Serious Accidents
- War Experiences
- Physical Assault
PTSD is said to occur in a third of people who experience an intensely traumatic event. There is still some mystery behind why some people develop PTSD, while some do not.
Those who suffer from depression and anxiety may be more susceptible to PTSD after a traumatic experience than those who do not. Additionally, there is a genetic factor when it comes to PTSD, this could be due to a parent suffering from mental health problems early on.
Symptoms of PTSD
There are a variety of different symptoms the individual may experience after going through a traumatic event. These symptoms usually appear during the first month or so after the traumatic experience, but sometimes they might develop months or even years later.
Re-Experiencing the Event
One of the most common symptoms of PTSD is re-experiencing the event and the emotions associated with it. The person will uncontrollably remember and relive the traumatic situation with vivid details.
These experiences typically include:
- Repetitive/Distressing feelings and images
- Intense Nightmares
- Physical sensations (sweating, sickness, shaking, and pain)
Avoiding and Emotional Numbing
A common symptom of PTSD is attempting to avoid places, people, or things that might remind the person of the traumatic experience. The person will try to repress these memories with distractions like work or hobbies.
Emotional numbing is when the person tries to deal with the disorder by trying not to feel anything at all. This typically includes heightened isolation and withdrawal from their everyday life.
Feeling on Edge (Hyperarousal)
Those with PTSD might find it hard to be relaxed during their everyday life. In a constant state of hyperarousal, the person is constantly paranoid of threats and easily startled.
This can sometimes lead to angry outbursts, irritable behavior, sleeping issues, and trouble concentrating. This can lead to a stressful and anxious daily life for the diagnosed individual.
Other Known PTSD Symptoms
Along with hyperarousal, re-experiencing, and emotional numbing, there are a number of other symptoms that may be experienced by those with PTSD. Some of these include:
- Depression and Anxiety
- Destructive Behavior
- Drug/Alcohol misuse
- Headaches and other physical symptoms
On a side note, it is also possible for children to experience PTSD as well. Children can have the same symptoms such as intense nightmares and other physical symptoms after a traumatic experience.
Diagnosing PTSD and When to Seek Help
It is common to have some uncomfortable and confusing thoughts after a traumatic experience, but these usually clear up after a few weeks. If these thoughts and feelings worsen or don’t go away, then you may have PTSD.
It is recommended to seek medical advice if you or a loved one is still experiencing these symptoms 4 weeks after the event or if the symptoms are simply too uncomfortable.
PTSD can be an uncomfortable and painful experience for those who have experienced trauma, but it is important to come to terms with these feelings, and normally seeking medical help is the most effective way of treating PTSD.
Treatment methods for those suffering from PTSD have been around for years, and are always evolving. It is never too late to get help for yourself or a loved one.
One of the silver linings, is that it is never too late to get help for your PTSD. Various methods of treatment include:
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
PTSD treatment usually includes psychological therapy, which includes Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT attempts to change how the individual thinks and acts. This type of therapy can be particularly useful when treating PTSD because it helps the individual come to terms with the traumatic experience.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Another newer technique is Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (also known as EMDR). This process has the individual making side-to-side movements with their eyes in accordance with the therapist’s finger while remembering the traumatic event. It is still a little unclear how this works, but it is said to aid in the symptoms.
Other Treatment Options
Group therapy is a particularly useful treatment option, it allows you to interact and speak among people who have experienced PTSD like you. Group therapies for veterans, rape victims, and other PTSD experiences are available to you and your loved ones.
Medication is also an option when suffering from PTSD. Antidepressants can sometimes help treat some of the symptoms of PTSD in adults. Paroxetine and Sertraline are both medications specifically for PTSD. Ask a professional if these are right for you.
It is important to know the signs of PTSD and the options you and your loved ones have to treat it. Some treatments might be better suited for you, so talk to a medical professional before taking medications or going to therapy.
In the month of June, we take a look at the crippling disorder that is PTSD, in hopes to spread awareness and hope for the millions of Americans that are affected by it.
It is important to understand the statistics and truly see the severity of PTSD (All stats from PTSD: National Center for PTSD/ptsd.va.gov).
- About 7 out of every 100 people will have PTSD in their lives.
- Approximately 8 million adults are diagnosed with PTSD every single year.
- 6 out of 10 men (60%) will experience at least one traumatic event in their lives.
- 5 out of 10 women (50%) will experience at least one traumatic event in their lives.
- 10% of women will develop PTSD at some point in their lives.
- 4% of men will develop PTSD at some point in their lives.
- The difference in the percentage of men versus women has to do greatly with the likelihood of sexual assault and child abuse, which is more frequent in women.
- Around 50% of outpatient mental health patients have PTSD.
- Close to 60-70% of people who experience a severe traumatic event will develop PTSD.
- On average, around 20-30% of war veterans will return home with PTSD (Vietnam War, Iraq/Afghanistan, Gulf War).
These statistics shine a bright light on the fact that no matter who you are or where you are from, everyone is vulnerable to experiencing PTSD at some point in their lives after a severely traumatic event.
With this in mind, there are always ways to seek treatment and medical help when dealing with PTSD and it is never too late to try.
A Month of Awareness
PTSD Awareness month is more than just a month where we talk about PTSD, it is a call out to all those who suffer from PTSD and are still struggling with it. To all the veterans and victims with PTSD, we look towards you as we offer our strength and support that you and your loved ones are able to overcome this disorder.
Spread awareness and look to PTSD victims with open arms and an open mind. If you or a loved one is struggling with PTSD, contact us today to begin your road to recovery!