Post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a disorder that can occur after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event. Unfortunately, only about 50% of those who suffer from PTSD seek treatment. To dispel stigmas surrounding the condition and provide more information to the public about PTSD, June 27th has been named PTSD Awareness Day.
Know the Signs of PTSD
The PTSD Foundation of America reports that an estimated 7.8% of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. This number is even higher for service members who have been in war zones at 30%.
People who experience any of these symptoms for more than a month may have PTSD:
- “Re-experiencing” in the form of flashbacks, bad dreams, or frightening thoughts
- Avoiding thoughts, feelings, places, objects, or events related to the traumatic experience
- Feeling easily startled, tense, or angry, or having difficulty sleeping
- Having difficulty remembering the traumatic event or experiencing persistent negative thoughts or distorted feelings related to the event
These symptoms may not occur for weeks or even months after a person has experienced something traumatic.
Help for Veterans
There are numerous resources available for veterans across the country who are experiencing PTSD, most notably through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA). The VA provides services to all veterans who:
- Completed active military service in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard
- Were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions
- Were National Guard members or Reservists who have completed a federal deployment to a combat zone
The VA also sometimes offers resources to active duty service members as well.
Through the VA, veterans can receive mental health assessments and one-on-one, family, or group therapy. Find a local VA PTSD program near you with this locator. If needed, you can also call the VA Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 for more information.
In addition to the VA, there are many other organizations offering resources as well, including the Red Cross, the PTSD Foundation of America, and the Lone Survivor Foundation. You can find a more extensive list here. Each of these organizations has its own crisis hotline, so you will never be without help.
Help for Non-Veterans
Though PTSD is most commonly associated with veterans, non-veterans can suffer from PTSD as well. Going through assault or abuse, a natural disaster, or some other life-threatening event can trigger the condition.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), psychotherapy (aka “talk therapy”), including group therapy, can be extremely helpful with PTSD. There are also complementary health approaches that can be taken along with treatment, including yoga, mindfulness and meditation strategies, or having a service or support animal to help navigate daily stressors.
If you or someone you know is experiencing PTSD, you can also contact the NAMI HelpLine at 800-950-NAMI (6264) or email email@example.com for assistance in finding support and resources.