At any given time, about 2.4 million Americans are living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and women are almost twice as likely as men to develop PTSD.
Our military veterans are often significantly affected by PTSD, especially those who have served on combat missions. More than 540,000 vets have been diagnosed with the condition. Susan Holmes, manager of Craig’s Operation TBI Freedom program shares some signs to be aware of and what you should do if you think you or a loved one may be affected by PTSD.
Typical symptoms of PTSD include:
- Changes in behavior – such as irritability, agitation, social isolation, avoidance, memory loss, substance abuse and more
- Increased fear and anxiety – including flashbacks
- Sleep issues – such as insomnia or nightmares
- Mood changes – including guilt, anger, loneliness, emotional detachment and loss of interest
Unfortunately, many people don’t seek help and support due to the stigma around PTSD in our society. But people can and do live full, functional lives with PTSD if it is treated and managed correctly.
If you suspect you may have PTSD, the first and most important step is to talk to your physician or a mental health professional to get a proper diagnosis. Many of the symptoms of PTSD are similar to other health disorders or medical issues – such as stress or anxiety – so knowing exactly what you are facing is the first and most critical step.
One important note is that it’s never too late to seek a diagnosis and treat PTSD. Whether it’s been months or years since a traumatic event or experience, treatment is still possible and can be very effective.
Specific treatments vary depending on the diagnosis. Just like any health disorder, there is a scale of severity and some people may require different treatment than others.
Next, be sure to utilize the resources available through Veterans Affairs (VA) – or other mental health resources for those who are not military veterans – to help you understand and manage life with PTSD. It affects the whole family, so these resources can also be especially helpful to family members.
If you think you may have PTSD, take the first step and talk to someone you trust. Here are a few additional helpful resources: