PTSD Awareness Month
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects 1 in 29 Americans, from our country’s service men and women to abused children and survivors of rape, domestic violence and natural disasters. During PTSD Awareness Month in June, and throughout the year, we recognize the millions of Americans who experience this challenging and debilitating condition.
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that some people develop after seeing or living through an event that caused or threatened serious harm or death. PTSD may result in sleep problems, irritability, anger, recurrent dreams about the trauma, intense reactions to reminders of the trauma, disturbances in relationships, and isolation. Some people may recover a few months after the event, but for others it may take years. For some, PTSD may begin long after the events occur.
PTSD can be treated. Effective treatments are available, such as exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and approved medications. Many people with PTSD also benefit from peer support.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), along with the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Defense (DOD), are supporting new research to reveal the underlying causes of PTSD and related conditions, develop better tools to identify those at highest risk of developing the disorder, and develop new and better treatments and preventive interventions. As part of the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law, HHS is partnering with DOD and the VA to share our best ideas on how to improve the quality of health care for veterans and all Americans.
If you think that you or someone you know has PTSD, you are not alone. There is help available. Talk with a caring VA counselor by calling 1-800-273-8255 (press “1”) or visiting the online VA Chat at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/Veterans/Default.aspx .
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) also offer a variety of resources designed to help people who suffer from PTSD, as well as aid their families and friends in better understanding and dealing with trauma’s aftermath. These resources include:
- SAMHSA’s Mental Health Services Locator at http://store.samhsa.gov/mhlocator helps locate local treatment services and support for those with PTSD.
- NIMH and National Institutes of Health fact sheets and information on clinical trials and scientific studies on PTSD at http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml and http://report.nih.gov/NIHfactsheets/ViewFactSheet.aspx?csid=58&key=P
- Information about bullying and other traumatic crises at http://www.stopbullying.gov.
- The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (http://www.nctsn.org/resources/public-awareness/national-ptsd-awareness-day ) provides tools and resources to assist health care providers, educators, and families.
- The National Center for Trauma Informed Care (www.samhsa.gov/nctic) provides education and training for supporting recovery and identifying specific treatment practices to address trauma.
Additionally, a list of military family resources can be found through the following:
- SAMHSA’s Military Families Strategic Initiative web site at http://www.samhsa.gov/militaryfamilies.
- Veterans Chat for veterans, family members or friends in crisis at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org .
During PTSD Awareness Month and on PTSD Awareness Day, June 27, 2012, we focus national attention on this debilitating condition and renew our commitment to support research, education, and treatment for those living with PTSD, as well as for their friends and families.
We have a responsibility to help Americans who have lived through trauma, especially our nation’s service men and women who may be struggling with PTSD. We owe them the care and resources they need to get well.