When we think of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), many of us think immediately of soldiers returning from combat. Although many PTSD sufferers are coming back from war, this is only part of the picture of this condition.

National PTSD Awareness Day, on June 27, 2014, is designed to bring awareness and understanding to this often hidden disease.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition that arises when a person experiences either a single traumatic event or a series of traumatic events, such as a physical or sexual assault, combat, or natural disaster. People with this condition relive the moment of that traumatic event over and over and are unable to stop, even dreaming about the event. These thoughts and dreams prevent the sufferer from normal, everyday functioning. A condition called hypervigilance can also occur where the person is constantly on the lookout for a perceived threat, unable to believe that they are safe and removed from the cause of their PTSD.

One of the main goals of National PTSD Awareness Day is to not only raise awareness but also to remove the stigma of PTSD as a mental illness and help people get treatment. Dr. Matthew Friedman, former executive director of the National Center for PTSD, says, “Greater public awareness of PTSD can help reduce the stigma of this mental health problem and overcome negative stereotypes that may keep many people from pursuing treatment.”

Treatment options can include counseling, either one-on-one or in a group, prescription medications, and alternative therapies such as biofeedback, acupuncture, and meditation techniques. Families can also participate in family counseling to help understand what their loved one is experiencing and to get some support of their own.

PTSD is often accompanied by other issues such as anxiety, depression, and struggles with alcohol or drug abuse.  If you or a family member or friend has suffered a traumatic event and have symptoms of PTSD, don’t wait to get help. There are plenty of counselors who specialize in PTSD, and there are other tools to help you cope with stress on your own.

For those who have not experienced PTSD, take a moment on June 27, 2014 to help raise awareness in your community by learning more about this condition and reaching out to someone who has it.

Image courtesy of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs 


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