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PTSD Awareness Month: Diagnosis is Only the First Step

Thousands of Hoosiers are suffering from PTSD either from military service or a traumatic event. (defense.gov)
Thousands of Hoosiers are suffering from PTSD either from military service or a traumatic event. (defense.gov)
June 20, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Almost 25 million people in the U.S. are living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to the support group PTSD United.

That includes thousands of Hoosiers who have suffered a traumatic event, from crimes or natural disasters to events surrounding military service.

Dr. Matthew Friedman, senior adviser at the Veterans Administration's National Center for PTSD, says the diagnosis is only part of seeking help.

"On the one hand, there are resilient people who meet the full diagnostic criteria for PTSD, but they can cope with the symptoms," he says. "Then, there are other people for whom PTSD is completely debilitating."

Friedman says treatment has advanced to include cognitive therapy and medications that can help people work through their illness.

While it's normal to experience stress after a traumatic event, Friedman says you should seek professional help if it lasts longer than three months, disrupts home or work life, or you find yourself reliving the event frequently and experiencing flashbacks.

"We really want people to recognize that they've got PTSD and if they're not sure, they should see a professional who can help them sort that out," Friedman says. "And if they do, then we've got treatments that work. People who think they have PTSD, or their loved one has PTSD, should seek treatment."

The annual cost of anxiety disorders to society is estimated to be well over $42 billion, often due to misdiagnosis and under-treatment. This includes the costs of psychiatric and non-psychiatric medical treatment and prescription drugs, plus indirect workplace costs and mortality costs.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN