June is National PTSD  Awareness Month

By EVELYN JACKSON COLUMNIST,

National PTSD Awareness Day is a day dedicated to creating awareness regarding PTSD. It is acknowledged annually on the 27th of June. The US Senate officially designated this day in 2010. In 2014 the Senate designated the whole month of June as PTSD Awareness Month. 

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is an anxiety problem that develops in some people after extremely traumatic events, such as combat, crime, an accident or natural disaster. Although it is commonly used with Veterans, individuals experiencing domestic violence or a detrimental loss of family or loved ones are subject as well. People with PTSD may relive the event via intrusive memories, flashbacks and nightmares; avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma; and have anxious feelings they didn’t have before that are so intense their lives are disrupted.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), symptoms fall into four categories:

•Intrusive or recurrent memories of the trauma. Because of the way the mind and body manage post-traumatic stress, you may have a difficult time forgetting about your trauma. You may have nightmares and flashbacks — vivid memories of the event that feel like they are real. Sometimes, these reactions can be triggered by environmental cues, such as a news report that reminds you of a storm that devastated your community, or an environment that looks or feels like a setting where you experienced an assault.

•Avoidance of trauma reminders. People with PTSD may avoid people or situations that remind them of the event — in essence, screening their environment so they don’t have to face potential triggers. This is understandable, but can interfere with your ability to work, go to school, interact with others and otherwise live your life normally. You may also try to “lose yourself” in work and other activities to avoid thinking about the event.

•Feeling sad, angry or numb. People with PTSD often experience more negative emotions than they did before the event, including sadness, anger and a loss of pleasure in things that used to make them happy. If the trauma is a personal violation, you may feel guilt or shame about what happened. You may have trouble trusting people. You may become emotionally numb, shuttering your feelings or using alcohol or drugs to suppress memories and emotions.

•Feeling “on edge,” or other changes in reactivity or arousal. This symptom is directly related to the physiological changes that occur in response to trauma. You may be more jittery than normal, and feel and act impatient or irritable. You may have trouble sleeping or concentrating.

Who prescribes your medication may depend on the type of provider you see and the state you live in. If you’re being treated by a psychologist or a Master’s-level provider, they will probably have to coordinate your care with a physician, psychiatrist or nurse practitioner.

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