The National Center for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder designated June as PTSD Awareness Month and the United States Senate designated June 27 as National PTSD Awareness Day. There are approximately eight million adults currently experiencing PTSD in the United States.
PTSD is a mental health disorder that some people develop after witnessing or living through a dangerous or life-threatening event or a sudden and distressing event that resulted in serious physical and/or mental harm, such as combat, a natural disaster, a sexual assault, or the unexpected death of a loved one. It is natural to feel anxious or afraid during and/or after any traumatic situation. However, there is a reason for concern if those feelings remain for an extended period, or if they fade only to be triggered again later. For some people, such feelings become chronically symptomatic of PTSD.
Whether PTSD symptoms begin immediately after a trauma, manifest at a later time, or come and go over time, if they last a month or more (even off-and-on) and are severe enough to interfere with personal relationships or one’s ability to work, it might be due to PTSD. According to the National Center for PTSD, of the US Department of Veterans Affairs, about six of every 10 men (or 60%) and five of every 10 women (or 50%) experience at least one trauma in their lives; and about seven or eight out of every 100 people (or 7-8% of the population) will have resultant PTSD at some point in their lives. Symptoms associated with PTSD that might be observed in these people include problems sleeping, general irritability, anger, recurrent dreams specifically about the trauma, intense reactions when reminded of the trauma, withdrawal and isolation from friends and family, and more. Some people may recover from PTSD after a few months, but others may take several years.
Fortunately, there are more and more organizations and resources available to help individuals to recognize PTSD in themselves or loved ones and explore methods to treat it. From therapy to support groups to medication, there are ways to manage PTSD symptoms. If you need assistance finding a counselor or therapist who specializes in PTSD care and treatment, check out these resources:
- Sidran Institute Help Desk will help locate therapists who specialize in trauma treatment. Send an email or call their Help Desk at (410) 825-8888.
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America has a therapist search option; therapists can be sorted by location and mental health disorder. Call (240) 485-1011 or send them an email.
- ISTSS Clinician Directory, a service provided by the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), offers the ability to search online for a clinician, counselor, or mental health professional based on a variety of different factors from location to specialty to language and more.
- American Psychological Association offers a Psychologist Locator that is similar to that of the ISTSS. It allows online searches by location, specialty, insurance accepted, and gender of the provider.
- Psychology Today provides an online therapist directory and treatment center directory by location.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers a Behavioral Health Services Locator that can be sorted according to location and type of facility. Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for assistance, 24 hours a day.
If you are in immediate crisis, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room for help. Other ways to get more immediate help include contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255 or En Español, 1-888-628-9454), or the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255, press 1 or text 838255).
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