The United States Senate has designated June 27th as National PTSD Awareness Day. Every day in my practice I’m doing what I can to bring more awareness to trauma and the “invisible wounds” that contribute to post-traumatic stress.
It isn’t just the military who suffer from PTSD. Anyone and everyone who has experienced overwhelmingly traumatic events can find themselves suffering from hidden, emotional wounds. Firefighters, EMTs, police, nurses, emergency room personnel, crime victims, abuse victims—all of these and many more are at risk.
I’ve tried to highlight issues and misunderstandings about PTSD in my recently published book, Trauma: Healing the Hidden Epidemic. To further contribute to PTSD awareness this day, let me quote from my chapter, “A Note to Veterans and Their Loved Ones”. What I’ve written in this chapter regarding veterans applies to all those suffering from post-traumatic stress.
“Post-traumatic stress disorder is just a name for a catalogue of symptoms that follow a stressful situation. Veterans are not the only people on earth with PTSD. Yet the term has a very negative connotation in the military world. Veterans often feel that a PTSD diagnosis reduces the uniqueness of their individual reactions, feelings and struggles. Or they may feel stigmatized, labeled, and devalued by their peers.
“In truth, veterans experience a wide range of reactions following deployment, and the symptoms can be minor or severe. Instead of using this name as a label, it is important to reestablish post-traumatic stress disorder as merely a collection of possible symptoms caused by trauma. It is not limited to war veterans, and those suffering from PTSD may not be permanently damaged; they can heal with proper treatment.”
Let me say that again: PTSD is not a permanent condition. With help, it can be healed. That is the essential message of my book, a message of hope. Of all the awarenesses that could occur on this National PTSD Awareness Day, let that be the overriding one.