June 27 is National PTSD Awareness Day
While Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental health condition that should not be taken lightly, it is still considered taboo and has many misconceptions associated with it. To help bring PTSD out in the open and spread awareness and knowledge, Congress declared June 27th PTSD Awareness Day in 2010. The purpose of PTSD Awareness Month is to encourage everyone to raise public awareness of PTSD and its effective treatments so that everyone can help people affected by PTSD.
What is PTSD?
According to the Mayo Clinic, PTSD is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Many people who go through traumatic events have difficulty adjusting and coping for a while, but they don’t have PTSD — with time and good self-care, they usually get better. But if the symptoms get worse or last for months or even years and interfere with your functioning, you may have PTSD.
Causes of PTSD
Though doctors are not entirely sure why some people get PTSD, it is most likely caused by a combination of:
- Inherited mental health risks like anxiety and depression
- Genes associated with “fear memories”
- Life experiences including severity and amount of trauma throughout one’s life
- Cognitive development and regulation of chemicals released by stress
Symptoms of PTSD
PTSD can cause many symptoms. These symptoms can be grouped into three categories:
1. Re-experiencing symptoms
- Reliving the trauma over again–including physical symptoms such as sweating, racing heart
- Scary thoughts
2. Avoidance Symptoms
- Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry
- Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
- Having trouble remembering the dangerous event.
3. Hyperarousal Symptoms
- Being easily startled
- Feeling tense or “on edge”
- Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts.
Symptoms in Children
Children and teens may exhibit symptoms differently than adults, thought just as extreme. Some common symptoms in young children may be:
- Bedwetting, when they’d learned how to use the toilet before
- Forgetting how or being unable to talk
- Acting out the scary event during playtime
- Being unusually clingy with a parent or other adult.
Treatments for PTSD involve psychotherapy, which can be combined with medication if necessary. Unfortunately, because every person with PTSD is different and symptoms result from their specific situations, treatments must be individualized. What may work for someone may not work for someone else. It is important to try different treatments to find what is proper.
As a part of the US Department of Veterans Affair, the National Center for PTSD is dedicated to research and education on trauma and PTSD. They tirelessly work to assure that the latest research findings help those exposed to trauma. Their website contains both a Public Section and Professional Section to ensure you find the information you are looking for.
The National Institute of Mental Health is a leader within the Mental Health Community. This page is a great starting point for a basic overview of PTSD, including, but not limited to: causes, common questions, treatments, psychotherapy options, medications, and links to the most current research.
Psych Central provides ample information regarding PTSD, from diagnosis to treatments. They even include a Frequently Asked Questions section which provides insight and a few more resources on PTSD.
Gift from Within is a non-profit organization dedicated to those who suffer with PTSD, those at risk for PTSD, and those who care for traumatized individuals; develops and disseminates educational material, including videotapes, articles, books, and other resources through its website; maintains a roster of survivors who are willing to participate in an international network of peer support.
This organization aims to provide both an online and home base hands on approach to thrive. They offer a unique approach to therapy by being the first organization of its kind in Canada to serve as an International resource offering a combination of the Equestrian World and PTSD Education and Healing through the nature of the farm, beauty and power of horses.