Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not just stress that occurs after a traumatic event. It’s a serious mental condition that can affect anyone who has lived through trauma, and it can make normal, everyday life impossible. During June, mental health experts and advocates for people with the condition mark post-traumatic stress disorder awareness month. In this blog, we will explain four facts about PTSD.
- Anyone can develop PTSD. Military members with PTSD receive the most media attention, but anyone who experiences a traumatic event can develop PTSD. According to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs publication “Understanding PTSD,” people who have experienced serious car accidents, abuse, sexual assault or a natural disaster may all experience PTSD.
- Not everyone who experiences trauma develops PTSD. About 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women experience at least one traumatic event in their lives. Most people experience some kind of stress after trauma, but not necessarily PTSD. Of people who experience a traumatic event, 8 percent of men and 20 percent of men develop PTSD. Combat veterans and sexual assault victims do have higher rates of PTSD than those who experience other kinds of trauma.
- People with PTSD have different types of symptoms. According to the VA, symptoms include reliving the event through memories of the trauma, avoiding situations that remind you of the event, negative changes in your beliefs and feelings, and feeling keyed up. Other symptoms related to PTSD include feelings of hopelessness, shame and despair. You may have employment and relationship problems.
- PTSD can be treated. PTSD can be treated with medication and psychotherapy. Medications called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) may help some people with PTSD. According to the VA, medications called benzodiazepines may be prescribed, but they do not treat the core PTSD symptoms and could lead to addiction. For therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is considered an effective treatment. In addition, a therapy called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing can be effective. This therapy can help change how you react to memories of the trauma.
If your PTSD is severe and prevents you from working, you may be eligible for disability benefits to provide you with financial relief. VA disability benefits may be available for veterans, and any worker who meets work and disability requirements may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Even if your PTSD does not prevent you from working on its own, it may be a factor if you are unable to work due to other severe medical impairments.
- Our Coon Rapids-based law firm represents veterans and other people in Minnesota and throughout the Midwest who are disabled and unable to work. For more information, visit our page on PTSD.