June is PTSD Awareness Month: Testing, Treatments, and Symptoms

First Posted: Jun 13, 2014 08:37 PM EDT

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects approximately 7.7 million adults in the United States, most of whom are military veterans. June is PTSD Awareness Month and various organizations are striving to teach the public more about the issue.

PTSD is a mental health problem triggered by a terrifying event that is either experienced or witnessed. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, inability to sleep, emotional issues (bouts of anger), and difficulties with interpersonal relationships.

The National Center for PTSD promotes awareness for the disorder throughout the year, but most notably during June. This is only the fifth PTSD Awareness Month and upcoming PTSD Awareness Day (June 27), after Congress declared it official in 2010. Through learning about treatments, connecting with those who are directly or indirectly affected by PTSD, and spreading the word about it, anyone and everyone can make a difference.

"There are many barriers that keep people with PTSD from seeking the help they need. Knowledge and awareness, however, are key to overcoming these barriers. For those living with PTSD, knowing there are treatments that work, for example, can lead them to seek needed care," the National Center for PTSD said in a statement.

The National Military Family Association is also at the forefront of promoting awareness for PTSD. The disorder affects 1 in 5 military service members who were a part of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, and the association points out various places one can seek help (either for themselves or for a loved one). They also suggest relaxation techniques that can alleviate stress, anxiety, depression, and more. Real Warriors and AfterDeployment are two organizations that offer help to veterans.

Approximately 7 to 8 percent of the population (25 million people) will someday develop PTSD. Dr. Matthew J. Friedman suggests cognitive processing therapy (CPT), prolonged exposure counseling (PE), and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) that are effective in treating PTSD patients. A promising recent study found that PTSD symptoms could potentially be relieved with a common hypertension treatment called the renin-angiotensin system.

With more awareness, plentiful funding for research can help the millions of suffering veterans with new treatments and medications.

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