Explaining Post Traumatic Stress
Jun. 27, 2016
Today is National Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Day. What began as PTSD awareness day in 2010 was later expanded into PTSD Awareness Month by the Senate in 2014. "Raising PTSD awareness is essential to overcoming the myth, misinformation and stigma surrounding this mental health problem," said U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald. From nursing students to dental hygienists, as a future health care professional, you might find yourself on the front lines of treating PTSD patients or educating the public on the topic. Typically, when folks have conversations about PTSD itâs in the context of veteransâ and first respondersâ response to the often horrific nature of their service, and they wouldnât be incorrect. But did you know that PTSD is more widespread than that?
One out of 13 people ...PTSD is a mental health condition that can occur after someone has been exposed to a single traumatic event or multiple traumatic events. It could be brought on by sexual or physical abuse, an unexpected life event (i.e. house fire, natural disaster, terrorist attack etc.) or war-related combat stress. Itâs important to note that because someone might have been affected by a traumatic event does not mean that they will develop PTSD. While itâs widely underreported, often due to misdiagnosis and the stigma associated with PTSD, the Nebraska Department of Veteran Affairs reports that, âan estimated 7.8 percent of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives, with women (10.4 percent) twice as likely as men (5 percent) to develop PTSD.â Thatâs an estimated one out of every 13 people. So whether itâs a patient, family member or acquaintance, thereâs a high propensity that someone in your life might struggle with PTSD.
How might it manifest itself?When discussing a diagnosis of PTSD, health professionals look for clusters of symptoms that last for one month or longer and interfere with personal and professional aspects of daily life. The Sidran Institute, a leading traumatic stress education and advocacy organization, define the clusters as:
- Re-living the eventÂ through recurring nightmares or other intrusive images that occur at any time. People who suffer from PTSD also have extreme emotional or physical reactions, such as chills, heart palpitations, or panic when faced with reminders of the event.Â One or more of these symptoms must be present for diagnosis.
- Avoiding reminders of the eventÂ including places, people, thoughts, or other activities associated with the trauma. PTSD sufferers might feel emotionally detached, withdraw from friends and family and lose interest in everyday activities.Â Three or more of these symptoms must be present for diagnosis.
- Being on guard or hyper-arousedÂ at all times, including feeling irritable or sudden anger, having difficulty sleeping or a lack of concentration, being overly alert or easily startled.Â Two or more of these symptoms must be present for diagnosis.