June is National PTSD Awareness Month

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a stress related disorder that may occur after a traumatic event which can include exposure to physical or emotional harm, violence, sexual abuse, jonatan-becerra-176647-unsplashaccidents, military combat or exposure to death.
According to PTSD United:
  • 70% of adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives. This equates to approximately 223.4 million people.
  • Up to 20% of these people go on to develop PTSD. As of today, that equates to approximately 44.7 million people who were or are struggling with PTSD.
  • An estimated one out of every nine women develops PTSD, making them about twice as likely as men.
Common myths about PTSD:
  • Only combat veterans suffer from PTSD.
    • Military personnel can certainly be diagnosed with PTSD; however anyone that has been exposed to a traumatic event can develop PTSD.
  • Anyone who is exposed to trauma will acquire PTSD.
    • Everyone responds to traumatic events differently, and not everyone will develop PTSD. Short-term distress can be common after an incident, however symptoms may only last a short duration of time. Differences in reacting to traumatic events can be due to roots in biology, resiliency and cognitive thinking.
  • Having PTSD means you are weak.
    • Acquiring PTSD is due to risk factors that are often outside of personal control. PTSD has nothing to do with mental or physical strength and feeling helpless or having a lack of support often contributes to developing PTSD and depression.

Symptoms of PTSD often include flashbacks of the traumatic event or triggers which may lead to fear, anxiety or depression. Often times individuals with PTSD may struggle with anger, avoidance behaviors, physiological distress and PTSD may also be accompanied by drug or alcohol use as a maladaptive way of coping.

Treatment for PTSD includes psychotherapy, exposure therapy and medication management. Recent advances in cognitive neuroscience have also increased our understanding of the structure of the brain and how PTSD affects specific brain areas which can help with the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD.
“I’m no longer at the mercy of my PTSD, and I would not be here today had I not had the proper diagnosis and treatment. It’s never too late to seek help.”-R.K. Phillips. To learn more about PTSD, check out this success story: My Story of Survival: Battling PTSD.