About six out of 100 people will have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point of their lives, according to the National Center for PTSD; this means that in a given year, 12 million adults in the U.S. may be suffering symptoms of PTSD. Because trauma can happen at any age, children and teens can also have PTSD. Each year, the U.S. child protection services receive three million reports of traumatic events affecting children, including violent crimes, disasters, and abuse. The prevalence of trauma, and consequently, PTSD, is alarming and heartbreaking. Many people with PTSD do not have access to or seek the help they need. This June, in commemoration of PTSD Awareness Month and throughout the year, we aim to raise awareness of PTSD, its symptoms, and treatment options.

What is PTSD?

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that some people can develop after living through or witnessing an event that causes emotional, psychological, or physical distress. PTSD impacts quality of life because it can cause upsetting triggers. PTSD triggers can include sounds, smells, sights, memories, or flashbacks that remind you of the traumatic event. For some, remembering the trauma can be distressing, causing anxiety, fear, depression, or anger. But for others, triggers can be debilitating.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

Trauma affects people differently. Our short-term and long-term reactions will depend on how our brains use their defense mechanism to cope with the overwhelming stress. Therefore, children experiencing the same violent event can show different PTSD symptoms. And not all veterans return from active duty traumatized by the conflicts of war.

PTSD can be a silent, invisible illness. You may not even realize someone is going through it because they’re doing their best to hide their emotions. However, there are certain symptoms that you should look out for if you worry that someone you love is experiencing PTSD, such as:

●      Insomnia

●      Depression

●      Personality or behavior changes

●      Flashbacks

●      Recurring nightmares

●      Panic attacks

●      Severe or noticeable reactions to triggers

●      Uncontrollable and intrusive memories

●      Amnesia or memory loss

With PTSD, the brain struggles to process the trauma. For many people, the trauma doesn’t feel like a past event. Seeing, smelling, hearing, or remembering things that remind them of the trauma is enough to bring them back to that moment. Triggers become like buttons; when pressed, the person with PTSD can have a physical, mental, or emotional reaction. Remembering the traumatic event can cause sleep disturbances, leading to daytime tiredness, irritability, and difficulty focusing.

For some, the trauma is so overwhelming that the person loses their ability to cope, and the brain doesn’t properly convert short-term memories. It may seem that forgetting the traumatic event entirely is best; however, the memory loss may be temporary and may lead to sudden flashbacks or fragmented memories of the trauma.

How is PTSD treated?

PTSD can seriously impact quality of life and well-being. PTSD can lead to loneliness, severe depression, and anger management issues when left untreated. The good news is that the symptoms of PTSD can be reduced through treatment, such as therapy.

At Communicare, we recognize how debilitating PTSD is. We are the people who care. Our Crisis Services is staffed with Master’s level Mental Health Therapists, Community Support Specialists, and Peer Support Specialists. Individuals, families, law enforcement, clergy, ERs, chancery courts, or anyone concerned about an individual experiencing or is at risk of a psychological and/or substance abuse crisis can request assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Should you or a loved one have a mental health emergency, please call 911, go to your nearest emergency room, or call1-866-837-7521 to be connected to Communicare’s mobile crisis team, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.