We don't want to let June go by without acknowledging that it is PTSD Awareness month. Along with that, June 27th is PTSD Awareness Day. As with other awareness months, it's important to take time to help spread awareness around the cause. There are a lot of PTSD myths and misunderstandings in society and we want to help clear up facts from fiction.
Trigger Warning: This blog post mentions different types of trauma.
What is PTSD?
PTSD stands for posttraumatic stress disorder. It is a mental health condition that is brought on by experiencing a traumatic event or situation.
It's very common for individuals who have experienced trauma to experience symptoms because of it. This could include things like nightmares, anxiety, obtrusive thoughts, and flashbacks. Generally, the symptoms ease with time but not for those experiencing PTSD.
Typically within 3 months of the traumatic event ( but it could be sooner and it's possible to be years later), the individual begins to have symptoms which can include things like:
Avoiding places or people that act as reminders
Avoiding feelings or thoughts that are connected to the event
Feeling on edge
Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
Increased irritability and anger
Feelings of blame or guilt
Negative feelings about the world
Blocking out parts of the traumatic event
These symptoms begin to interfere with their everyday life such as their ability to maintain a job or participate in certain activities. It can also negatively impact their relationships.
For some people, the symptoms may go away after months on their own. But ignoring the symptoms can cause them to become worse. Some people end up with chronic PTSD when they don't seek help and get treatment. There are several treatment options available to help people experiencing the symptoms of PTSD. Working with an experienced therapist or mental health professional can help.
PTSD in children
PTSD in children can show up a little differently than it does in adults. Young children may experience bedwetting, separation anxiety when not with a parent, not speaking, or they may act out or recreate the traumatic event while playing.
The symptoms in older children and teenagers tend to more closely line up with the symptoms that adults experience.
What is considered trauma?
One of the misconceptions about PTSD is that it's something only members of the military get after serving in times of war. But the disorder is not only diagnosed in members of the military even though that's a common connection that you may hear in the media.
Anyone that has experienced trauma can experience PTSD.
Trauma can mean different things to different people. For the diagnosis of PTSD, the person must have been exposed to serious injury, violence, or the threat of death. This can be that they have personally lived through and experienced a traumatic situation or that it happened to someone else in their lives. This means you can be diagnosed with PTSD even if the traumatic situation didn't happen to you personally. This is another one of the common misconceptions around the condition.
Some examples of trauma that can lead to PTSD include:
Being involved in or witnessing a serious accident
Having been the victim of sexual or physical assault
Abuse of any type
Difficult childbirth experience like losing a baby
Working as a first responder
These are just several examples of situations that could lead to someone having PTSD. But it's important to understand that experiencing one of the situations above does not mean that you necessarily will have PTSD. And any type of trauma can lead to the development of PTSD, not only those listed above.
How to know if you have PTSD
Anyone who has experienced trauma can end up developing symptoms of PTSD. Typically, over time, these symptoms will start to fade and the person is able to overcome them. But if the symptoms continue to worsen and last for more than a month, you may be diagnosed with PTSD.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, you may benefit from working with a mental health professional. They can help you learn important coping strategies and find support. PTSD can impact people in different ways and a mental health professional can help customize a treatment plan for your specific situation.
We also want to make sure you know that you don't need to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder or condition in order to work with a therapist at The NEST Clinic in Stillwater MN. We can work with you to overcome trauma, stress, anxiety, and difficult life situations in a healthy way. If you have questions on how we can help, please reach out today.
How to get involved in PTSD Awareness Month
Even if you've never experienced trauma or symptoms of PTSD, we invite you to get involved in PTSD Awareness Month. Here are some things you can do:
Educate yourself on PTSD and the symptoms
If you've experienced or are experiencing PTSD, share your story with others to help break the stigma that surrounds mental health challenges
Help spread awareness about PTSD (sharing this blog post is a great way to start)
Donate to organizations that are spreading awareness
Support friends or family in need of help
And most importantly, if you're struggling with your mental health right now, for any reason, we invite you to contact us to see how we can work with you to help you feel your best.