PTSD Awareness: How Common is It? You Just Might Be Surprised

With so much emphasis on mental health, PTSD awareness isn’t just a buzzword. Affecting our military and beyond, the trauma lasts longer than the triggered event.

PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) can affect people regardless of gender, age, or career. Even though the workplace isn’t a treatment setting, companies can help PTSD workers. They can provide PTSD awareness campaigns, training, and a suitable working environment.

Employers can assist workers by offering instructions and job-related responsibilities in writing. This can help those who suffer from memory difficulties. Workers who need time off for treatment appointments can be offered flexible schedules.

Proper working conditions, such as lighting, can help improve concentration. Well-lit parking areas can help those who feel unsafe due to their trauma. Letting employees rearrange furniture to see visitors approaching can help those with anxiety.

Sufferers Need PTSD Treatment

People having disturbing thoughts for a month after trauma should seek treatment. Getting treatment as soon as possible can help prevent symptoms from getting worse.

If someone with PTSD has suicidal thoughts, no time should be wasted. Friends and family can be a good resource. Ministers or spiritual leaders can provide support as well. The United States has a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. A person with suicidal thoughts can also call 911.

Doctors Treat PTSD

There are many effective ways to treat PTSD. Some are best treated with psychotherapy. Others benefit from medication. Many receive a combination of both. Psychologists, social workers, and other healthcare professionals provide counseling and discuss treatment options.

Psychotherapeutic methods like cognitive behavior therapy have proven successful in treating PTSD. Exposure therapy is a promising treatment. Patients relive experiences in controlled conditions. This helps many people work through the trauma.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is also used to treat PTSD. EMDR doesn’t rely on talk therapy or medications. Instead, it uses a patient’s own eye movements. The eye movements dampen the power of emotional memories of past traumatic events.

PTSD and “Moral Injury”

Not all PTSD is the result of a trauma inflicted by others or by exterior circumstances. Some individuals develop PTSD as a result of their own actions. For example, the term “Moral Injury” refers to a brand of PTSD suffered as a result of actions in times of war or another conflict.

For example, moral injuries may come from direct involvement in acts of war, particularly where others were injured or killed as a result of one’s actions. The “injury” is to the individual’s moral conscience and manifests itself in the form of guilt or shame.

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, these acts can be carried out by groups, or individuals, and usually involved perceived moral violations. The guilt or shame of having performed these actions haunts the victim in the form of mental images. These vivid, “mind’s eye” experiences cause residual anxiety as a result of unresolved guilt or shame.

Moral Injury is more likely to be experienced by people who have a keen sense of specific moral duties which they’ve been compelled to violate as the result of high-pressure situations. At times, these acts are carried out as the result of obeying commands which the person feels to be morally questionable.

Moral Injury Throughout History

In spite of being a new field of study in modern psychology, the principle of Moral Injury is featured in hundreds of historical texts, and even in sacred writings.

One such example is “Arjuna’s Despondency,” found in the first Chapter of the Hindu “Bagavad-Gita.” In this work, a military commander named “Arjuna” finds himself struck with a crisis of conscience as he stands before an army of his kinsmen, prepared to fight over a plot of land.

 “Seeing my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting spirit, I feel the limbs of my body quivering and my mouth drying up. My whole body is trembling, and my hair is standing on end. My bow Gandiva is slipping from my hand, and my skin is burning.”

This excerpt highlights the real, visceral symptoms experienced by those suffering from PTSD as a result of moral injury. Similar references exist in the Old Testament, the Quran, and the Epic poems of Homer, including the Iliad and the Odyssey. It was not until recently that Moral Injury began to be recognized and diagnosed as a psychological “wound” of war.

PTSD and “Betrayal Trauma”

Like Moral Injury, Betrayal trauma is a form of PTSD experienced as a result of residual feelings of guilt or shame. The difference is that the individual now suffers as a result of moral violations against themselves at the hands of people they deeply trusted. For example, children who have been physically or sexually abused by mentors or parents suffer from PTSD as a result of betrayal trauma.

Sadly, those suffering from betrayal trauma often can’t talk to anyone about the abuse for fear of not being believed or being alienated by family members who choose not to believe that the offense took place. This is why it’s important for those who treat this form of PTSD to give such people a safe place to talk about the offense, free from fear of retaliation or social rejection.

PTSD Awareness Increases

PTSD sufferers often look and act like any other American. So it can be impossible to know what they overcome every day. But many don’t get the help they need even though there are many treatments available.

Some ways to raise PTSD awareness:

  1. Learn about trauma, PTSD, and treatment
  2. Share what you know on social media
  3. Talk with a Veteran you know
  4. Download the PTSD Coach app
  5. Share stories of Veterans dealing with PTSD
  6. Share the What is PTSD? card
  7. Set up a PTSD booth or table at work or school
  8. Help create a display at the local library
  9. Tell people about PTSD Awareness Day on June 27

Participate in PTSD Awareness Month

If you’re affected by PTSD, whether from serving your country or from some other trauma, there’s help out there. If you have a family member or friend who lives with PTSD, you can provide the support they need.

June is PTSD Awareness Month. Raise awareness about the options available to Americans dealing with PTSD. Make a difference. Improve the lives of veterans and others who have experienced trauma. Help them find the treatment they need. It can be as simple as starting a conversation.

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