The month of June has been named, among other things, the awareness month for PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. As many of our blog readers and podcast listeners know, I am a huge supporter of our military, particularly because I’ve had so many friends and family that were enlisted. As PTSD is most often related by the general public to coincide with our veterans, it should come as no surprise that PTSD Awareness Month is something that it very important to me. However, it affects me on a much more personal level as I, myself, have PTSD.
Somewhere between 7-11% of the U.S. population will have PTSD at some point in their lives. Note, though, that many people with PTSD work through it during therapy and overcome it. But there’s more to PTSD than you’ve probably seen in the movies.
If you’ve ever watched a war movie, you’ve probably seen a combat veteran who will duck when they hear a loud boom. Or maybe he has night sweats from the terrible nightmares. And he won’t talk about the past. But there’s certainly more than just that. While many combat veterans do end up with a diagnosis of PTSD, anyone who has experienced trauma can get it. Those with most likelihood to get it are (in no particular order): military who have seen combat, genocide survivors, sexual abuse survivors, and mass shooting survivors. Any one of these groups of people are likely to experience the flashbacks and nightmares. But even something as simple as avoiding certain situations can be a symptom of PTSD. Panic attacks are also common.
If you’re wondering how you can help someone with PTSD, let me give you some tips:
– Be understanding of his or her needs and boundaries
– Do not be judgmental of coping skills (I often use a fidget spinner or stress reliever and get strange looks)
– If he or she confides in you about PTSD, ask what you can do to help during flashbacks or panic attacks
Ultimately, just be kind and empathetic. Everyone, everywhere, can use some more light in their lives.