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PTSD Awareness Day: Help is Out There

PHOTO: June is PTSD Awareness Month. Experts say itís important to build a better understanding of PTSD so those who are experiencing it feel comfortable seeking the care they need. Photo credit: Scott Liddell/morguefile.
PHOTO: June is PTSD Awareness Month. Experts say itís important to build a better understanding of PTSD so those who are experiencing it feel comfortable seeking the care they need. Photo credit: Scott Liddell/morguefile.
June 27, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio – It's estimated that one in eight deployed military service members will exhibit signs and symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a statistic that could impact thousands of Ohio families.

Today is National PTSD Awareness Day, aimed at helping veterans and others recognize the symptoms of the disorder so they can seek care. George Decker, a spokesman for the National Center for PTSD, says those who suffer should know they are not alone – and they can get better.

"There are effective treatments out there, and for most people who have PTSD, that can either enable them to recover or at least, cause some major improvements in their symptoms and in the quality of their lives," Decker says.

Decker explains that therapy can help a patient better understand how a trauma has changed their thoughts and feelings – and learn to change those thoughts and feelings, so they are less distressing. He adds that prescription medications also can be used to help some who are diagnosed with PTSD.

The National Center for PTSD, which is part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, estimates about half of all people will experience a traumatic event in their lifetime; the numbers are higher for members of the armed forces.

Decker says symptoms of PTSD include persistent, distressing thoughts or dreams about the traumatic event, avoidance, feeling numb, or easily becoming irritable or angry.

"Not everyone who is exposed to a traumatic event will go on to develop PTSD," he says. "They may develop one or more symptoms, but it's only PTSD if the person has had these serious symptoms for at least a month."

He adds that if the symptoms continue for a longer period of time, the person should seek medical assistance.

Decker says hearing from someone else who has been through a similar traumatic experience is beneficial, and one resource is About Face, a collection of videos on the center's website.

"You can go to that site and see videos of veterans talking about living with PTSD, and how treatment has turned their lives around," says Decker.

Additional information about PTSD and resources for assistance can be found on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH