June 27 is PTSD Awareness Day, and the perfect time for a discussion on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD affects millions of people and their families, and they can take comfort in knowing that there are treatments available that do work. The key lies in identifying the symptoms of the disorder and then getting the appropriate treatment.
“PTSD is a serious issue for the EOD family,” explains Nicole Motsek, executive director of the EOD Warrior Foundation. “There have been 16 years of war and multiple deployments that have taken a toll on our force and on their family members.”
PTSD, according to the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), occurs after someone has been through trauma. It can happen to anyone. The VA reports that 7-8% of the general population will have PTSD sometime in their life, and that in any given year there are 8 million people in the country who have it. Those in the military tend to have a higher rate of rate of PTSD, with up to 20% in veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, 12% of Gulf War veterans, and 15% of Vietnam veterans.
Here are 5 tips to keep in mind with PTSD:
- Knowing the signs and symptoms of PTSD is the first step to helping a family member or friend. Symptoms include, nightmares, flashbacks, avoiding situations that remind the person of the traumatic event, having negative feelings about themselves, and being hyper-vigilant and on the lookout for danger.
- PTSD is not a sign of weakness. Some people may avoid treatment or being diagnosed, because they feel it’s a sign of weakness. There’s nothing weak about someone getting treatment for a condition that is impacting his or her life.
- Children can also have PTSD. Younger children may have symptoms that include having difficulty sleeping, getting overly upset if parents are not near them, or acting out the trauma through play. Older children may exhibit the same symptoms as adults.
- There are many people who have PTSD who also have other conditions, such as depression, anxiety, hopelessness, shame, substance abuse problems, relationship problems, experience chronic pain, and difficulty obtaining and keeping jobs.
- Those with PTSD should explore treatment options to see what works for them. Some people are able to completely get rid of the symptoms, while others are able to reduce them or have them with less intensity. Many people who seek treatment for PTSD have positive results.
“We are fortunate that there are good treatment options available and our foundation is here to help the EOD family,” adds Motsek. “The more we raise awareness about the invisible injuries of war, and help reduce the stigma associated with PTSD, the more our force can heal and experience posttraumatic growth.”