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Lauren Lewis
BY Lauren Lewis

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
  • Temperament
  • 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

  • Flashbacks
  • Reliving the trauma over again–including physical symptoms such as sweating, racing heart
  • Nightmares
  • 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.

Treatment Options

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.

PTSD Resources

National Center for PTSD

PTSDAs 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.

National Institute of Mental Health

NIMH · Post Traumatic Stress Disorder  PTSDThe 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

psych centralPsych 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

PTSDGift 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.

PTSD International Education and Healing Centre

PTSD-canadaThis 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.

More about PTSD from the Friendship Circle Blog

Confessions of a Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Advocate

What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Kids?

10 Causes of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children

PTSD in Kids: What Risk Factors Exist?

5 Myths and Misconceptions about Children and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Lauren Lewis

Written on June 26, 2014 by:

Lauren Lewis began working at the Friendship Circle in May 2012 as the Communications and Event Coordinator. After participating in Dance Marathon at the University of Michigan and meeting some amazing kids with special needs, Lauren fell in love with the cause and never stopped advocating. When not at the Friendship Circle, she is wearing maize and blue and enjoying life in Detroit. You can connect with Lauren on LinkedIn.