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PTSD: Not Just a Veteran's Illness

Experts say cognitive behavior therapy and medication can help people cope with PTSD. (pedrojperez/morguefile)
Experts say cognitive behavior therapy and medication can help people cope with PTSD. (pedrojperez/morguefile)
June 17, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Almost 25 million people in the United States are living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to the support group PTSD United. That includes thousands of Ohioans who have suffered a traumatic event, from crimes or natural disasters to events surrounding military service.

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

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

Friedman said treatment has advanced to include cognitive behavior therapy and medication that can help people work through their illness. While it's normal to experience stress after a traumatic event, Friedman said 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 -- and if they do, then we have treatments that work," he said. "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 significantly more than $42 billion, often due to misdiagnosis and undertreatment. This includes the costs of psychiatric and nonpsychiatric medical treatment and prescription drugs, plus indirect workplace costs and mortality costs.

More information is online at ptsd.va.gov.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH