by Craig Gilman
Faculty member at American Military University
June is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month. Recent focus has centered on our deserving veteran population due to the increasing number of veterans returning from often harrowing experiences in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. However, traumatic events, such as natural disasters, serious accidents, terrorist attacks, assault and childhood abuse and neglect can lead to PTSD in anyone in our own communities here at home.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that “PTSD affects about 7.7 million American adults, but it can occur at any age, including childhood. Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men, and there is some evidence that susceptibility to the disorder may run in families.” Visit the NIMH PTSD site for a comprehensive overview of the causes, symptoms, treatments and tips for living with PTSD.
Helpguide.org explains that “The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can arise suddenly, gradually, or come and go over time. Sometimes symptoms appear seemingly out of the blue. At other times, they are triggered by something that reminds you of the original traumatic event, such as a noise, an image, certain words, or a smell. While everyone experiences PTSD differently, there are three main types of symptoms:
- Re-experiencing the traumatic event
- Avoiding reminders of the trauma
- Increased anxiety and emotional arousal
Visit the Helpguide.org PTSD page for specific indicators of these symptoms and more information on PTSD.
While intended to assist our veterans, the National Center for PTSD, of the Department of Veterans Affairs, provides a number of useful links and sound advice for those who suffer from PTSD. Their site is organized into a Public site for sufferers and their community and a Professionals site that contains a very useful treatment overview list of resources. There is also a link to the Guide to VA Mental Health Services for Veterans & Families.
PTSD can be conquered. Helpguide.org suggests that “If you suspect that you or a loved one has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it’s important to seek help right away. The sooner PTSD is confronted, the easier it is to overcome. If you’re reluctant to seek help, keep in mind that PTSD is not a sign of weakness, and the only way to overcome it is to confront what happened to you and learn to accept it as a part of your past. This process is much easier with the guidance and support of an experienced therapist or doctor.” In emergencies, contact 911.