June is PTSD Awareness Month!
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a psychological
diagnosis given to survivors of a traumatic event
that is life-threatening or that severely alters the
physical or emotional well-being of an individual.
The kinds of events that can lead to someone
developing PTSD often include either experiencing
or witnessing a severe accident or physical injury,
receiving a life-threatening medical diagnosis,
exposure to combat during wartime, experiencing
a natural disaster or other disaster (such as a plane crash
or terrorist attack), being the victim of rape, mugging,
robbery, assault, kidnapping or torture, or enduring
physical, sexual, emotional, or other forms of abuse.
Of the 70% of adults in the U.S. who have experienced
a traumatic event in their lives, 20% will go on to
develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Signs and Symptoms
Dealing with PTSD is an exhausting, and sometimes
terrifying experience, as it may involve reliving the
traumatic experience through unwanted images,
memories, flashbacks, and/or nightmares.
Survivors of trauma may become depressed,
anxious, numb, or just feel so unlike their
“pre-trauma” selves that their sense of identity
and normalcy is completely shattered. They
may lose the ability to focus or concentrate,
to sleep or eat normally, or interact with loved
ones in a healthy way. PTSD sufferers may avoid
anything that reminds them of the trauma, if
such avoidance is possible, but often live feeling
as if something terrible is about to happen at
any moment, and are in a constant state of
hypervigilance and nervous system arousal.
Because this feels so terrible, sufferers isolate
themselves and often use alcohol or other drugs
to try to numb their feelings and reduce anxiety.
A Free App for PTSD
The Veteran’s Administration‘s National Center
for PTSD has helped to create a free mobile app
which provides people with information about
PTSD, along with effective treatments for the
disorder. The app includes screening tools,
which may be helpful (along with evaluation
by a mental health professional) to determine
if you meet diagnostic criteria for the disorder.
The app then lets you track symptoms, and help
you to know whether you are getting better
or worse over time and with what treatments.
Managing Your Symptoms
One of the unique features of the app is that it
asks you to select photos and music you already
have on your phone or ipad to be used to reduce
distress as part of the “Manage Symptoms” section.
You will be led through different sets of relaxation
and other coping skills, and if your symptoms are
severe no matter what you try…there is a way to
get immediate crisis support through the Veterans
Crisis Line, 911, or through your support network
which the app guides you to set up and which will
include your mental health provider’s number.
Help at Your Fingertips
A section of the app walks you through an
assessment of whether you could benefit from
professional help, answers questions such as
“Will treatment really work?” and What does it
mean about me if I go for help?” It helps to
de-stigmatize help-seeking and encourage
someone suffering alone to reach out and
know that there is hope.
Good Reasons to Get This App:
PTSD affects 8% of Americans (that’s 24.4
million people!) and is present in almost
half of all outpatient mental health patients.
What this means to you is that even if YOU
do not suffer from PTSD, you more than likely
know SOMEONE personally who suffers or has
suffered from PTSD. And the more you know
about PTSD and how it can be effectively
treated, the more you can help one of those
24.4 million Americans to reach out of
the darkness and into the light of recovery.
To get this free app: