You may or may not know that today is PTSD Awareness Day. PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and occurs after an individual has seen or experienced a distressing event that involved the threat of injury or death, such as abuse, assault, war, or car accidents. An individual can also develop PTSD after extensive periods of verbal and mental/emotional abuse.
PTSD is real and serious. People aren’t just affected mentally. Extreme trauma can affect the way people physically and emotionally live as well.
Some people often associate PTSD with veterans (people that served in the military), but just like all mental health and substance use disorders, anyone can develop PTSD. It is estimated that one in thirteen people will develop PTSD at some point in their lifetime. Here’s some of the important things to know:
-Creates feeling of intense fear, hopelessness, and terror
-Negative reactions to ‘triggers:’ things that remind people of the event
-Recurring dreams and ‘flashbacks’
-Affects relationships & every-day activities
-Results in avoidance of people/places/things associated with the event
-Sometimes block out event all together (ignoring/trying to forget)
Trauma is one of the hardest things to describe, much less respond and treat. A lot of individuals that have PTSD also turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate, making it even more complicated. The important thing to remember is to BE THERE. Encourage and support someone you know that has experienced something. It may be difficult to talk about and they may not want to share their experience, but let them know you’re always there to listen, hang out, or reach out to find help.
Here’s how one person described the experience of PTSD:
You can’t help someone if you don’t know what it is they’re experiencing and where to get help. Learn about PTSD and educate others. Reach out to an adult you trust if you’re concerned about yourself or someone you know.
Fight the Stigma
Remind your loved ones it’s OK to not be okay. He/she is not alone and his/her struggles are valid. People can and do recover!
Remember everyone is fighting their own battles. Remember, one in four people develop a mental illness in a given year. Mental illness is invisible; just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean someone isn’t going through something.
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