June 7, 2012
June Is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month
Connie K. Ho for redOrbit.com
1 in 29 Americans. This statistic refers to the number of U.S. military men and women, abused children, as well as survivors of rape, domestic violence, and natural disaster who suffer from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) hopes to shine new light on PTSD.
Known as an anxiety disorder, PTSD develops after a person sees or lives through a particularly intense event that could have caused or threatened serious harm or death. Those who are diagnosed with PTSD suffer from anger, irritability, recurrent dreams about the traumatic event, sleep problems, relationship issues, and isolation. The reverberations of PTSD vary; some people may recover a few months after the event, and others could suffer for years.
“During PTSD Awareness Month in June, and throughout the year, we recognize the millions of Americans who experience this challenging and debilitating condition,” commented U.S. Department HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a prepared statement.
PTSD can be treated with a variety of therapies. Some of the treatments available include cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and a variety of approved medications. Those who have PTSD should also look to peer support to help them work through issues. In particular, the HHS has collaborated with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) in supporting new research to determine the causes of PTSD and related conditions. They also hope to discover better tools to help pinpoint these who are at high risk for developing the disorder. The development of new tools and preventive treatments will help improve the quality of health care for both veterans and other Americans.
“We focus national attention on this debilitating condition and renew our commitment to support research, education, and treatment for those living with PTSD, as well as for their friends and families,” expressed Sebelius in the statement.
Those who feel that they have symptoms of PTSD or believe that others may exhibit signs of PTSD may utilize a variety of resources. For example, VA counselors are available via telephone at 1-800-273-8255 as well as online at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Likewise, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have provided tools for people. One tool is the Mental Health Services Locator that can help locate local treatment and services for these with PTSD. Secondly, the NIMH and National Institute of Health have fact sheets and information on clinical trials and PTSD for people to become more knowledgeable on the disorder. Third, the National Center for Trauma Informed Care has education and training that can support recovery and identify specific treatment for those who are suffering from a particular trauma.
“We have a responsibility to help Americans who have lived through trauma, especially our nation´s service men and women who may be struggling with PTSD. We owe them the care and resources they need to get well,” concluded Sebelius in the statement.
Lastly, there are numerous military family resources that can be found on the web. The SAMHSA has a Military Families Strategic initiative website that describes various programs, data, and projects. There is also the Veterans Crisis Line, which can aid veterans, family members, or friends who are in crisis.