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      PTSD Awareness Month | Professional Therapy and Personal Support

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      The month of June is National PTSD Awareness Month in the United States. Created by The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), it conveys that mental health therapy is available. It also emphasizes that support from family and friends helps a person through this challenging condition. PTSD assessments can be found online to help identify the problem once symptoms are seen. 

      According to the National Center for PTSD, there are currently 8 million people in the U.S. living with PTSD. Most of those with mental illness don't get the help they need to improve their quality of life. These assets are available to raise awareness and spread the word that effective PTSD treatments are available:

      • PTSD Awareness Partner Toolkit - If an organization would like to partner with the VA, download the Partner Toolkit. It has helpful information and resources to enhance awareness. 
      • Prepared social media posts, flyers, and graphics for PTSD Screening Day, June 27th.
      • PTSD Awareness Month Calendar: For Providers - Health Care Provider version of the 30 ways to raise PTSD awareness calendar

      What is PTSD? 

      Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric condition that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a terrifying event. While symptoms vary per person, they typically involve elements that induce severe anxiety - uncontrollable thoughts about the event. 

      The symptoms of PTSD  cause intensely disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that continue to affect the person well after the event. These often occur through flashbacks or nightmares, feelings of sadness, fear, or anger. There’s a link to these symptoms that causes sufferers to become detached or estranged from other people. 

      The history of PTSD’s designation began during World War I. Those in combat experiencing lingering behavioral health issues were referred to as having shell shock. During World War II, the condition was named combat fatigue. 

      As the illness was recognized beyond the battlefield, PTSD became the current name of the affliction, covering many causes. 3.5 percent of adults every year are affected, with one in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime. Most complications can be significantly reduced through psychological therapy. 

      Therapy is the crucial first step in rebuilding mental stability. Some PTSD sufferers may resist at first, though encouragement from supporters helps. A PTSD-trained behavioral healthcare provider can be found through their health insurance provider, primary health physician, or online telehealth service.

      According to the National Center for PTSD, the therapist will coordinate additional checks to identify a tailored course of treatment. 

      The Symptoms of PTSD 

      These are symptoms to look for in a friend or loved one who’s suspected of having PTSD: 

      • Vivid memories of a traumatic event 
      • Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities 
      • Feeling detached from family and friends 
      • Having difficulty experiencing any positive emotions; emotionally numb 
      • Self-medicating; engaging in excessive alcohol or drug use 
      • Becoming easily startled by minor occurrences 
      • Having extreme reactions in unwarranted situations 
      • Engaging in self-destructive activities  
      • Frequent sleep disturbance 
      • Hopelessness 

      To be diagnosed with PTSD by a behavioral health counselor, a person will have had all the following challenges for a month: 

      • One or more re-experiencing symptoms (including event flashbacks, frightening thoughts, bad dreams). 
      • One or more avoidance symptoms (avoid distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings). 
      • Two or more arousal and reactivity symptoms (avoiding places, events, and thoughts or feelings reminding them of the event). 
      • Two or more cognition and mood symptoms (significant negativity; feeling hopeless, numb, or bad about themselves or others). 

      Ways to Support Someone Who Has PTSD 

      There’s good news after the grief: PTSD is treatable. With professional therapy and personal support, progress can be made to lessen symptom frequency and severity. Conversely, if the person’s symptoms continue unaddressed and untreated, they’ll generally worsen over time. 

      A good starting point to support a friend or loved one living with PTSD is to create a safe environment. This is a place where they’ll find relief in a relaxing, calm location. It’ll provide a sense of safety, security, and comfort. Their home and other physical spaces they frequent are a haven, where they feel at ease during recovery.

      Trauma affects the brain in many ways. People with PTSD have imbalanced neurotransmitters. This manifests as a mental disorder that often causes them to experience life differently than they did pre-tragedy. This affects the way supporters should interact with them. 

      When sufferers want to talk, supporters need to be good listeners and acknowledge their loved one’s feelings. Let them know that while no one can relate to their unique experiences, it’s understood that their feelings are real. People care for them and will help so that they won’t be left behind or rejected. 

      Adding physical elements to a person’s recovery can have positive, continuing effects. Self-care activities including meditation and yoga, eating a healthy diet, physical exercise, and good sleep habits help ease PTSD symptom complications. 

      PTSD Supporter’s Survival Guide 

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      Helping a family member or friend with PTSD recovery, and assisting with their treatment plan, can be physically and emotionally draining. Supporters having support from others is key to avoiding suffering symptoms of the disorder themselves. It’s vital they remember to take care of their own physical and mental health during their friend’s recovery. 

      For behavioral healthcare practices treating PTSD, automating therapists’ patient encounter notes, scheduling, office management activities, and reimbursement billing to enhance outcomes.

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