Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that follows the experiencing or witnessing of a life-threatening event or events, such as a natural disaster, military combat, a serious accident, or an assault. While many people are able to move past the stress reactions following these events, there are many others for whom the reactions persist and often get worse over time. The symptoms even begin to interfere in everyday life at work and home.
In 2014, the Senate decided to set aside the entire month of June for PTSD awareness. The purpose of this month is to teach the public all about PTSD and effective treatments, which allows family and friends of those who experience a trauma to recognize symptoms and help them find adequate care.
About 7-8 percent of the U.S. population will have PTSD at some point in their lives, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This is about eight million adults in any given year. Ten percent of women get PTSD, and four percent of men experience it.
There are treatment options available for people with PTSD. Various types of therapy are encouraged as a way to let out the thoughts, emotions, and feelings that are causing much of the stress in a person with PTSD. Cognitive behavioral therapy is meant to change how someone thinks and feels about the trauma. Group therapy allows you to share your story and speak with others who are experiencing the same thing. It can make you feel more comfortable talking about your trauma while working to lessen symptoms and reactions. Family therapy is also an option because the condition does affect the entire family. Kids don’t always understand what is going on, and spouses can often feel guilty, but family therapy is a good way to work through some of these things as well. Finally, medication is often used in treatment of PTSD. If you or someone you know is experiencing PTSD and think medication could help, talk with your doctor.
For family members of those with PTSD, there are things you can do to support your loved one. First, it’s important to learn as much as you can about PTSD so you can understand what your spouse or sibling is going through. You should also be there as moral support. Part of this is understanding that he or she may not want to talk and knowing how to be a good listener when necessary. Always encourage contact with friends and family to create a strong support system, and always be understanding.
For more information on PTSD, treatment, and resources, visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.