June is National Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month and more specifically, June 27 is National PTSD Awareness Day.

Some may have heard about PTSD in the news, school, work, or through social media. How many of us really know what it is, the symptoms, or how we can get help or help someone else?

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines PTSD as a “disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event”. Situations such as car accidents, extreme violence, sexual abuse, or mental abuse can create PTSD. However, we often hear about PTSD when referring to our military members who served in combat zones.

If you or a loved one suffers from PTSD, please seek immediate support from your primary care physician, local hospital, support group or organization.  However, some people may not recognize the signs or symptoms related to this condition. While some signs of PTSD are very similar to depression, there are other signs and symptoms to watch for as identified by NIMH, which may include:

  • At least one re-experiencing symptom
    • Flashback to the traumatic event
    • Night terrors or “bad dreams”
    • Frightening or abnormally dark/scary thoughts
  • At least one avoidance symptom
    • Staying away from any person, place, or thing which might be related to the traumatic event
    • Not engaging in thoughts or discussions about the event
  • At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms
    • Being easily startled
    • Being on edge or tense
    • Difficulty resting or sleeping
    • Uncontrolled anger or angry outbursts
  • At least two cognition and mood symptoms
    • Difficulty remembering aspects of the traumatic event
    • Pessimistic or negative thoughts about yourself
    • Feelings of guilt or blame
    • No longer enjoying the activities you once did

More details on these symptoms can be viewed here.

According to the National Center for PTSD, it’s estimated that out of 100 people, 7 to 8 suffer from PTSD. Unfortunately, many people are not properly treated, and the results can be catastrophic for the person suffering and their loved ones. It is estimated that an average of 22 veterans commit suicide every day. Many, if not most, suffer from this disorder and fail to find support.

The National Center for PTSD estimates that 15 percent of Vietnam Veterans, 12 percent of Gulf War Veterans, and as much as 20 percent of Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF) suffer from PTSD. If you or someone you know are showing any signs indicated above, please reach out to them, become their “Battle Buddy” (a term of endearment and sometimes sarcasm for the person who fights beside you, no matter where the battle is being fought).

Please take time this month (or every month) to reach out to those who may be struggling or showing signs of PTSD or depression in general. You never know where they are in this fight, and your call and  concern could be what turns the tide and helps them win their battle.

Please reach out to our office or one of these organizations if you or someone you know needs help. If you would like to help ensure and support those who are taking the fight to PTSD, please reach out to the below organizations, or use the material and tips created by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to help spread the word about PTSD and treatments.

SSG Travis Mills Foundation - https://www.travismills.org/foundation/

22 Kill - http://www.22kill.com/for-those-in-need/

Operation Homefront - https://www.operationhomefront.org/

Dysfunctional Veterans - https://www.dysfunctionalveterans.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/DysfunctionalVeterans/

Veteran PTSD Support and Recovery - https://www.facebook.com/groups/VeteranPTSDSupport/

To learn more about PTSD, watch the series of videos created by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

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