PTSD Awareness Month
BY: Christy Lambert, Behavioral Health Provider
June is National PTSD Awareness Month, with June 27th being National PTSD Day. Mountain Laurel Medical Center would like to take this time to provide education about this common diagnosis that, according to the American Psychiatric Association, impacts around 3.5 percent of the American adult population.
What is PTSD?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a diagnosable psychiatric disorder recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. Any person who has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event can develop PTSD. Common symptoms of PTSD include irritability or angry outbursts, being easily startled, sleep disturbances including nightmares, flashbacks, feelings of detachment, intrusive and involuntary memories, avoidance of triggers, and negative thoughts/beliefs. If these symptoms persist for an extended period of time (in most cases longer than 6 months) after a traumatic event, appropriate professional help should be obtained for screening to provide an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
What Causes PTSD?
Although commonly associated with war and combat, other traumatic events including, but not limited to natural disasters, tragic accidents, or sexual assaults could lead to a person experiencing PTSD. What one person may consider as a traumatic event may not be considered traumatic to another person. The way our bodies process events depends on protective factors available person to person including preventative and immediate interventions used prior to and after the traumatic event, support systems, and prior traumatic experience.
What are Common Myths of PTSD?
- PTSD only comes from war and combat
- PTSD will get better on its own with time
- PTSD only happens to people who are “weak” or to those who do not know how to handle their lives
- Everyone who experiences a traumatic event will get PTSD
What are Resources Available to Help?
When you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of PTSD, it is important to assure them that there is no shame in what they are going through and encourage them to talk to their doctor or mental health professional. There are many different mindfulness coping skills that can be used to help with intrusive thoughts and help to manage anxiety in triggering and/or stressful situations. Ongoing therapy can help teach these coping skills as well as help process the traumatic event in a safe and positive way. Many of our Behavioral Health Providers at Mountain Laurel Medical Center are dual certified in trauma therapies. Check out the US Dept of Veterans Affairs website for additional self-support and information on PTSD at https://www.ptsd.va.gov/gethelp/selfhelp_coping.asp.