June is PTSD Awareness Month. A month that not only focuses on raising awareness around PTSD, but spreading word and understanding on what it is, how to access treatments and where to receive support.
PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is defined as a disorder that can develop in some people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event in their lifetime. It can develop after something such as a natural disaster, a serious car accident or war/combat. However, someone does not have to go through a dangerous event, such as combat, to experience PTSD. The sudden death of a loved one, for example, can also trigger this disorder. PTSD can affect all people, no matter ethnicity, race, gender or age. While it can present differently to everyone, some common signs and symptoms of PTSD are:
- Intrusive thoughts or flashbacks of the experience or event
- Withdrawing from friends or family members
- Avoiding people, places or objects that may remind them of the traumatic event
- Alterations in mood, such as anger, sadness or guilt
Symptoms generally begin a few months after the traumatic event. They must also last more than a month and be extreme enough to be classified as PTSD. That being said, the time period which one may experience PTSD can vary, as well as the severity and symptoms. So, what can you do if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of PTSD?
First, it’s important to find someone to talk to and confide in. Ideally, this could be a therapist or other mental health professional, but having a solid support system of a family and/or friends is a good idea, as well. One could also try Psychotherapy, or Talk Therapy, and talk to a mental health professional about a broad variety of mental health disorders and/or emotional difficulties, as well as ways to cope with and manage symptoms.
In fact, some type of therapies (and therapists, themselves), focus mainly on treating those with PTSD. One type of psychotherapy that focuses on PTSD is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR. In this situation, you would identify and focus in on an upsetting memory or experience, which can include negative thoughts and/or feelings. You will continue to think about that memory while paying attention to a back-and-forth movement, such as a light or beeping tone until your distress levels decrease. The purpose of this specific type of therapy is to help someone process memories and thoughts that are related to their trauma and to re-focus on more positive beliefs.
It’s also important remember to be patient and kind, with both yourself and others who may have experienced traumatic events and developed PTSD as a result. Remember, you are not alone in what you are feeling and if you need to confide in others about what you are going through or to find more resources, visit SAMSHA’s Find Treatment page at: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-treatment
Guest Blogger: Mollie Clupper, Public Ally
Mollie Clupper is working as a Public Ally AmeriCorps Apprentice for MHA. Using her own experiences, she wants to help bring awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental health. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, drinking coffee, and spending time with her fur-niece.