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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that develops after experiencing an extremely traumatic event (s). Some people develop PTSD due to being in war, having a major stress, being attacked, witnessing terrorism, experiencing sexual assault and/or seeing another person or group go through an ordeal. They may have witnessed trauma, an accident, fire, etc.

The diagnosis of PTSD involves symptoms that include reoccurring flashbacks, avoidance or numbing of memories associated with the event(s), having nightmares, frightening thoughts, and/or hyperarraousal. When the symptoms continue for more than a month, the diagnosis may be given.

Although the statistics currently show 22 Veterans commit suicide on average per day and PTSD diagnosis is 800,000 currently for (US) Veterans, the belief is that working on wellness may be the best way to counteract the fallout and desperation that occurs for 1 in 3 service men and women and others. Change will occur as more people seek help and continue to practice relief techniques and therapies.

Our film, “Jacob’s Honor” was created to promote awareness and give Veterans and their families insight into the difficulties they may face upon return to the USA.

Resilience factors may reduce the risk of PTSD.  Some prevention and observance of the reasons some Veterans and others have a better experience after trauma:

  • Seek out support from other people, such as friends and family
  • Find a support group after a traumatic event
  • Feel good about one’s own actions in the face of danger
  • Have a coping strategy/a way of getting through the bad event and learning
  • Be able to act and respond effectively despite feeling fear
  • Maintain an optimistic but realistic outlook
  • Face fear (ability to confront one’s fears)
  • Rely upon one’s own inner, moral compass
  • Turn to religious or spiritual practices
  • Seek and accept social support
  • Learn from and imitate sturdy role models
  • Stay physically fit
  • Stay mentally sharp
  • Cognitive and emotional flexibility (find a way to accept that which cannot be changed)
  • Look for meaning and opportunity in the midst of adversity

PTSD is diagnosed by health care professionals with experience helping people with mental difficulties / conditions, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. The diagnosis is made after the doctor talks with the person who has symptoms of PTSD.

To be diagnosed with PTSD, a person must have all of the following for at least 1 month:

  • At least one re-experiencing symptom
  • At least three avoidance symptoms
  • At least two hyper-arousal symptoms
  • Symptoms interfere with daily life, such as going to school or work, being with friends, taking care of important tasks.

Methods of Therapy for PTSD vary in effectiveness and many more have evidence to be effective:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, to help people recognize their ways of thinking, or “cognitive patterns,” that keep them stuck
  • Exposure therapy, to help people safely face what they fear, in order to learn to cope with it (virtual reality devices are often used to simulate a situation or setting in which the trauma took place)
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, or EMDR, which combines exposure therapy with a series of guided eye movements that help people process traumatic memories and change the way they respond to those memories.
  • Anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants can also ease the symptoms of PTSD
  • Alternative therapies: Dance, Music, Art and others may assist in a healthier transition.

Symptoms that require assistance include suicidal thoughts and self-medicating or other means of coping that require immediate help. Seek assistance online and/or contact a call center.  The effects of PTSD may also be delayed and occur months or years after an event.

VA Support groups and Online sources available for Veterans:

Counselors experienced in the specific stressors that military members face staff a suicide hotline available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (800) 273-8255.

Other resources may be of great assistance; bringing the links to this site soon.