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PTSD Awareness

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Jessica Shaw

As this Wednesday is Veterans Day, we wanted to highlight the importance of mental health awareness and recognize a highly disregarded condition that is especially common within the veteran and active military community. While PTSD affects about 3.5% of Americans each year, veterans represent over 500,000 of those cases. In fact, a study shows that over the course of the past 13 years, almost 30% of members who served in wars overseas, whether it be Iraq or Afghanistan, screened positive for PTSD. With this in mind, it's hard to imagine how many others suffer from this illness when you begin to consider the Vietnam War, Civil War as well as World War I and II. 

However, it is important to mention that not all PTSD cases derive from military action but can also stem from any other traumatic experience that has caused an influx of stress and panic such as negative memories from childhood, severe accidents or past emotional distress. Whatever it may, PTSD is a serious condition that deserves better representation within the healthcare industry, so please, take a look at the resources below to learn more about how you can take action against the stigma surrounding behavioral and mental health. 

What Is PTSD? 

Otherwise known as “shell shock” or “combat fatigue”, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is typically associated with veterans but is also frequently seen among African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans. Additionally, in comparison to men, women are more likely to screen positive for PTSD due to instances of sexual assault and domestic abuse. While some symptoms of PTSD are similar to those of depression, other warning signs include involuntary, intrusive thoughts or flashbacks, alterations in cognitive behaviors as well as tendencies to overreact, be startled easily and act recklessly. Furthermore, PTSD does not always result from experiencing traumatic situations first hand, intense feelings of grief, helplessness and sadness also contribute to developing this disorder for those who may have lost a family member, witnessed a devastating event or been remotely affected by any tragedy. 

What Are The Five Stages Of PTSD? 

Along with the various types of PTSD, there are also individual stages that affect each person differently, based on how they handle stress and certain “triggers”. While coping mechanisms differ for everyone, the most common first stage of PTSD is the impact or “emergency” phase, where the shock of the situation is still extremely unsettling. Then, guilt, anxiety and fear set in leading to the most vulnerable stage of denial, which ultimately results in short-term recovery. While some continue to accept and utilize helpful resources available, others keep denying reality and often become delusional, making it just as important to increase accessibility to healthcare as it is to improve affordability. With this in mind, those who do suffer from PTSD need to understand the significance of proactively seeking help and being open to treatment.

How Can PTSD Be Treated?

If symptoms or feelings of distress do not subside, it is best for those with severe cases of PTSD to participate in psychiatric counseling or cognitive processing therapy. It has also been proven that group therapy is significantly helpful for those who want to focus on the emotional and interpersonal aspects of their disorder in a non-judgmental setting with other survivors. Additional options for treatment include stress inoculation, prolonged exposure and even medications like antidepressants or selective serotonins. Beyond these treatments, healthy lifestyle choices, especially exercise, are definitely beneficial for people combatting symptoms of PTSD. Click here to learn more about the benefits of seeking treatment for PTSD.

How Can We Spread Mental and Behavioral Health Awareness? 

Aside from PTSD, other similar conditions such as acute stress, social anxiety and panic disorders are all unfortunately misunderstood. With society being quick to criticize what they can’t understand or don’t want to acknowledge, people who suffer from both mental and behavioral health illnesses do face accusatory, abrasive and uncompassionate stigmas that have been manipulated by institutional social norms. In efforts to raise awareness as well as help society realize PTSD is a disease rather than a mere indisposition, we all need to be kind to one another and foster support for advocacy campaigns, whether it be volunteering, sponsoring or donating. Take a look at these resources for more information on how you can help.

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