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June is PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) Awareness Month, and we want to educate veterans on what PTSD is and how to seek help if needed.
It’s normal for someone who experiences a traumatic event to have stress or become emotional after the event. Emotions and behavior can change in ways that are upsetting or unsettling to you, but they usually get better over time.
PTSD is a mental health problem. It can begin after you experience extreme trauma like combat exposure, a serious accident, an assault or abuse, natural disasters, terrorism or other highly stressful situations.
Depending on the service era, it’s estimated that 11% to 30% of the soldiers who’ve served in war have had PTSD in their lifetime. This is compared to 5% of men and 10% of women in the civilian population.
Symptoms of PTSD may come and go over many years or disrupt your life, making it hard to deal with your daily activities. It’s important to keep track of your symptoms and talk to anyone you trust about them.
Signs and symptoms of PTSD may include:
• Having flashbacks or bad memories of the event for an extended period of time
• Paranoia, being scared or startled easily, feeling irritable or angry
• Uncomfortable reactions to daily activities, avoiding routine activities
• Not wanting to talk about traumatic events, feeling the world to be dangerous
• Feeling uncomfortable in crowds, feelings of detachment, emotional numbness, inability to concentrate
• Lack of feelings toward loved ones
• Problems sleeping, reoccurring nightmares
If you have any of these signs that last longer than six weeks, or have issues with work, family, or friends, it could be time to get help for PTSD. The decision to speak with someone about PTSD symptoms can be difficult, but doing so is the best way to figure out what is going on and the first step to getting better.
Getting help for PTSD will allow you to:
• Learn skills to better handle negative thoughts and feelings
• Reconnect with people you care about
• Set goals for activities, like work or school, that you can handle
• Make sense of the trauma
Veterans who get treatment for PTSD will improve their quality of life and will learn skills to heal and get better.
Treating PTSD is a top priority for the VA. The VA has established valuable resources along with ongoing research in order to provide excellent care for Veterans with PTSD. Along with mobile applications and interactive learning tools, the VA launched the AboutFace campaign which highlights Veterans’ stories that have experienced PTSD and turned their lives around with treatment.
If you need help it’s important to speak with your mental health or primary care provider. They will have answers to what’s going on and the best treatment options. Treatment usually consists of counseling, medication, or a combination of both. If you take the proper steps you and your loved ones can live a better quality of life.
Below are more resources on PTSD:
Understanding PTSD (PDF) – Department of Veterans Affairs
PTSD: Decision Aid – Department of Veterans Affairs
PTSD Program Locator – Department of Veterans Affairs
PTSD Coach Online – Department of Veterans Affairs