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21 June, 2024.

The Family Counseling Center Recognizes June as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Month

June is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month, a chance to focus on the causes, symptoms, and treatment of PTSD. PTSD is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event. Traumas such as combat, assault, abuse, serious accidents, or natural disasters are known to trigger PTSD.

At least half of Americans have had a traumatic event in their lives with roughly 6% of the population experiencing PTSD at some point. PTSD affects millions worldwide, yet stigma and misinformation often prevent individuals from seeking the help they need.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

Symptoms of PTSD can vary widely and may manifest immediately after the traumatic event or even years later.

  • Flashbacks and intrusive memories: These often take the form of vivid, distressing memories of the event that can feel like you are reliving it.
  • Avoidance: You avoid the places, people, or activities that remind you of the traumatic event.
  • Negative changes in thinking and mood: Negative thoughts, feelings of guilt or shame, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, or difficulty feeling positive emotions.
  • Hyperarousal: Feeling on edge constantly, being easily startled, having difficulty sleeping, or experiencing angry outbursts.

The symptoms of PTSD may appear different in children of all ages including:

  • Clinging to caregivers or crying
  • Having tantrums or being disruptive
  • Showing increased fearfulness
  • Incorporating aspects of the traumatic event into imaginary play
  • Problems in school
  • Being angry or resentful
  • Withdrawing or becoming isolated from family and friends

Barriers to care

Despite the availability of effective treatments, many individuals do not seek help due to stigma, fear, or lack of awareness. It is essential to educate communities about PTSD and encourage open conversations about mental health. Often, individuals do not seek help because of:

  • Stigma: There is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health issues, including PTSD. Many people fear the judgment of others or believe seeking help shows weakness rather than personal strength.
  • Self-Blame: Individuals may blame themselves for the traumatic event, making it difficult to admit they need or deserve support.
  • Lack of awareness: Some may not recognize their symptoms as signs of PTSD or may not know that effective treatments are available.
  • Fear of reliving the trauma: Talking about the trauma in therapy can be daunting, leading some to avoid seeking help altogether.

“PTSD is a serious condition that can impact anyone who has faced trauma,” notes Michael Ballester, a mental health therapist at The Family Counseling Center. “Seeking help is not a sign of weakness but a crucial step towards healing. If you know someone who may be experiencing PTSD symptoms the most important thing you can do is to help that person get the right support, diagnosis, and treatment. There are treatments that are very effective including therapy and medications which can alleviate symptoms and improve overall well-being and quality of life.”