Not all wounds are visible.
June 27th is National Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) awareness day. It is a day dedicated to increasing PTSD awareness. This is a topic that should frequently be discussed. According to the National Center for PTSD, roughly 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan, struggle with PTSD symptoms in a given year. Continued awareness of PTSD is necessary as this debilitating condition represents a notable and catastrophic illness to veterans and their Families.
What is PTSD?
The Military has played a vital role in implementing assessments, treatment programs, and research to help aid the growing rate of Veterans suffering from PTSD. Despite growing research and awareness in this area, popular myths still exist related to PTSD. Below is a list of several of these common myths.
PTSD: Common Myths
Several misconceptions can be associated with PTSD. These misunderstandings can have negative consequences such as stigma and mistreatment for those suffering from PTSD.
MYTH: People with PTSD are dangerous.
FACT: PTSD is characterized by upsetting memories and changes in mood. Symptoms of PTSD do not imply danger or that the person is dangerous.
MYTH: People with PTSD cannot function in their work environment.
FACT: There are many individuals with PTSD who are able to work and uphold their position of employment. PTSD can create symptoms that happen in the workplace, however coping skills allow them to still function in that environment with success.
MYTH: PTSD affects someone as soon as they are exposed to a traumatic event.
FACT: Many believe if time has passed from the traumatic event that individuals are no longer at risk for PTSD. Although symptoms often happen after the first couple of months after a traumatic event, it can take months or even years before the symptoms can appear.
MYTH: PTSD is a sign of mental weakness.
FACT: This is a common misconception that is hard to cope with for someone going through this struggle. Some of the factors that determine whether someone will develop PTSD include: the type of trauma experienced, the severity and length of exposure, amount of social and family support, and how the brain releases chemicals to combat stress, etc.
MYTH: PTSD only affects the military population.
FACT: Although PTSD greatly affects our military veterans and Soldiers, it can occur in anyone, including children. Below are some more facts about PTSD for the general U.S. population.
- Roughly 7 or 8 out of every 100 people will have PTSD at some point in their lives.
- Roughly 8 million adults have PTSD during a given year. This is only a small portion of those who have gone through a trauma.
- Roughly 10 of every 100 women develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with about 4 of every 100 men (or 4%).
From the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Center for PTSD - a list of common reactions family members of a person with PTSD may experience
- Negative Feelings
- Anger and guilt
- Health problems
The encouragement and support from family members and/or friends or other social supports are vital for someone experiencing symptoms of PTSD. Many service members choose not to get help because of the social stigma that comes with psychological health care treatment. The challenge then becomes for the person with PTSD to manage their illness by themselves while staying emotionally connected to their family. Social support is a key part of the recovery process. It is essential that individuals lending support to a person with PTSD educate themselves as to how to best support them in their journey of recovery.
The best way to recognize PTSD awareness day is to take the time to understand the experiences and realities of those around you who may be suffering from PTSD. Visit the National Center for PTSD website to learn about posttraumatic stress disorder and resources available to support service members and families. Also, check out the PTSD Coach app for iOS and Android devices. Additional resources can also be found at Military one source.