PTSD is defined as a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) states that living through or witnessing an unexpected, dangerous, violent and/or disastrous moments are factors that can lead to this condition. A person involved in a deadly car accident or who experienced a sexual violation can eventually suffer from PTSD; or an entire community that lived through a disastrous hurricane can develop PTSD on a group basis.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the tool used by psychiatrists and other physicians to diagnose patients. Symptoms of PTSD include intrusion, avoidance, negative alterations in cognitions and mood, and alterations in arousal and reactivity. These symptoms last an extended period of time and are not attributable to a substance or co-occurring medical condition.
PTSD affects an individual on all levels: physical, emotional, mental and social. The ability to function in any normal fashion is severely impaired. The existence of this condition is often extremely difficult for family and friends. But, it is important to remember that complete recovery is possible. Due to the incredible power of human resiliency, the person can recover. In fact, the body and brain actually “want” to heal themselves.
Many approaches have been successfully utilized in the treatment of PTSD such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Somatic Experiencing, Trauma Sensitive Yoga, Group Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Sensory Motor. It is usually a combination of many treatment strategies, in conjunction with a caring, compassionate support network that leads to real trauma transformation.
In 2010 Congress named June 27th National PTSD Awareness Day. Since that time an explicit national conversation has begun regarding the experience, impact and misconceptions of PTSD. We hope with each additional year, the world will have a better understanding of what this disorder entails and more people will seek and receive the help they need.