June 27 is PTSD Awareness Day, dedicated to raising awareness for post-traumatic stress disorder and informing the public of the condition. In 2010, Senate designated June 27th as the official day of observance in honor of Staff Sergeant Joe Biel of the North Dakota National Guard who took his life after suffering from PTSD after two tours in Iraq. In 2014, Senate officially designated June as National PTSD Awareness Month.
Post-traumatic stress disorder affects military members and civilians alike and can easily be an unseen condition that goes without treatment. PTSD Awareness Day and Month aim to raise awareness in hopes of helping those suffering silently to find proper support and treatment. To observe PTSD Awareness Day and learn more about the condition, read below for PTSD information on how to identify symptoms and seek assistance.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health condition caused by experiencing a traumatic event. Triggers of PTSD include war or combat, natural disaster, close personal death, a serious accident, and violent assault. PTSD can be developed by those who either observed or experienced a traumatic event that has caused immense distress. For military members, post-traumatic stress disorder is understandable and unfortunately a prevalent occurrence due to the exposure to high-intensity situations while serving.
- 70% of adults have experienced a traumatic event in their lives, 20% of which develop PTSD
- Women are twice as likely to develop PTSD as men
- 7.7 million Americans over the age of 18 suffer from PTSD
- 67% of people exposed to mass violence develop PTSD
- Post-traumatic stress disorder can affect children
- An estimated 7 or 8 out of every 100 people will be diagnosed PTSD in their lifetime
- About 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans (or between 11-20%) who served in OIF or OEF have PTSD
- About 12 out of every 100 Gulf War Veterans (or 12%) have PTSD
- About 30 out of every 100 (or 30%) of Vietnam Veterans have had PTSD
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms
If you or a loved one has experienced a traumatic event, post-traumatic stress disorder may occur. These symptoms of PTSD can appear quickly or may take years to develop. Due to its unpredictability in timing, it is important to know the post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms that may require further treatment. The 5 main PTSD symptoms are:
- Reliving: One of the most prevalent PTSD symptoms is reliving the traumatic experience. Reliving can be triggered by a number of stimuli such as the anniversary date or through sound and sight. This symptom is often experienced through flashbacks, nightmares, or hallucinations and leaves a lasting, negative impact.
- Numbing: Emotional numbing is a common sign of post-traumatic stress disorder. Suffering from PTSD is emotionally taxing, leading those who suffer from the condition to detach emotionally. The numbing of emotions can be shown as detachment from interests, distance from loved ones, and inability to express emotions.
- Negative Mood: Similar to emotional numbing is negative mood. If you or a loved one is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, you may witness extreme negative moods and mood swings. Depression, guilt, and aggression are typically exaggerated when affected by post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Hyper-Arousal: Experiencing hyper-arousal may occur mentally or physically for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. Senses are heightened, causing physical symptoms such as jumpiness, high blood pressure, nausea, muscle tension, and difficulty focusing and falling asleep.
- Avoiding: The last of the PTSD symptoms is avoidance of anything that may bring up memories of the trauma. Someone suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder may detach from people, activities, and thoughts that remind them of their traumatic experience. This can exaggerate the feeling of isolation.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment
There are two main methods for post-traumatic stress disorder treatment: psychotherapy and medication. Both treatments can be used separately or in conjunction with each other. PTSD treatments aim to help those suffering by incorporating lifestyle changes and trauma coping mechanisms to make everyday life more manageable.
If you believe you or a loved one is exhibiting PTSD symptoms, speak with a doctor to determine the best treatment approach for your particular situation. For more information regarding treatment for PTSD in the military, visit the Department of Veterans Affairs for guidance on where to find a therapist and seek treatment options.Those experiencing suicidal feelings or self-destructive urges should get help immediately. The Suicide Crisis Hotline (1-800-273-8255) offers specific resources for veterans and the Department of Veterans Affairs offers a Veterans’ Crisis Hotline confidential chat resource.