PTSD Awareness Month – What is PTSD?

12 Jun by HPA/LiveWell Clinical Psychology

PTSD affects millions of people in this country. And although it is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental illnesses, there are still many misconceptions and much misinformation out there. That is why June, which is designated as PTSD Awareness Month, is such an important time to spread the word about this mental health problem. At HPA/LiveWell, in Albany, New York, we are committed to doing our part in providing information and offering services to those who struggle with PTSD.

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that occurs in individuals who have either been the victim of, or witness to, a traumatic and/or life-threatening event.  PTSD can develop in anyone.

What are PTSD Symptoms?

Symptoms of PTSD often begin soon after the traumatic event. Yet, for some, it can be months, or even years before they appear. As is common to many mental illnesses, the symptoms of PTSD can come and go. This means there can be periods of increased severity, and periods of little to no symptoms. While everyone experiences PTSD differently, there are some symptoms that tend to be common across the board:

  • Disturbing memories, flashbacks, and/or intrusive thoughts
  • Nightmares and trouble sleeping
  • Increased irritability or anger outbursts
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hypervigilance, or feeling on edge or on guard for fear of danger

These symptoms can become pervasive in one’s life, creating immense anxiety, and affecting overall health and well-being.

What Causes PTSD?

Along with understanding what is PTSD, it is important to consider what causes PTSD. Frequently, post-traumatic stress disorder is identified as a mental illness developed by those returning from war. While this is true (and very common), there are millions of people in this country diagnosed with PTSD who have never experienced combat or war. PTSD also develops in individuals who are victims of abuse (emotional, physical, or sexual), or live through a natural disaster, car accident, or other life-threatening situations.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment

When it comes to mental illness, people often want to know if they can “get better.” Like all mental health diagnoses, “getting better” from PTSD is going to look different for everyone. Yet, there are certainly approaches to treatment that have proven quite effective for post-traumatic stress disorder sufferers. These methods to treatment center around different approaches to therapy, including the cognitive-behavioral approach (CBT), and/or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). While therapy alone can prove very effective, for some, a combination of therapy and medication produces the best results. Either way, if you or someone you know struggles with PTSD, it is important you seek the support of a mental health professional.