For non-veterans, it is difficult to imagine what combat might be like. Life-threatening experiences, violence, and death are sometimes witnessed by soldiers while deployed. These frightening missions can be difficult for even the most seasoned troops. In some cases, events like these can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, almost 31% of Vietnam veterans, 10% of Gulf War veterans, and 11% of veterans of the war in Afghanistan struggle with PTSD.
To help build awareness and encourage treatment, the U.S. Senate designated June 27 as National PTSD Awareness Day. Additionally, June has been designated as PTSD Awareness Month by the National Center for PTSD.
There are many misconceptions around PTSD that increase stigma and prevent individuals from seeking help:
- PTSD is not a form of weakness, but is the result of changes in how someone’s brain responds to their environment after being exposed to a traumatic event. The condition is a diagnosable mental illness. Each individual exposed to a trauma has their own set of risk factors for potentially developing PTSD, some of which are genetics, past history of traumas, and the degree or duration of exposure to traumatic events.
- You do not have to sustain physical injuries to suffer from PTSD. Traumatic events can also involve witnessing others being severely injured or dying, or being exposed to extremely terrifying events including random acts of violence or combat battle.
- PTSD symptoms can develop any time after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. For some people, symptoms may start soon after the event, or it may take months or even years before they are exhibited. In some cases, symptoms may come and go over many years.
While PTSD does have a higher incidence among military service members, it can affect anyone. If you are haunted by a past traumatic event, having difficulty sleeping, suffering from flashbacks, or struggling with other PTSD symptoms, help is available. Take an anonymous behavioral health screening at helpyourselfhelpothers.org to learn more about your symptoms and to find quality treatment options where you live.
If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, do not hesitate to seek professional help. PTSD can be successfully treated.
MassMen.org strives to provide helpful information that empowers men to take action to feel happier and healthier.