What is PTSD?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or more commonly known as PTSD, is one of the most frequently diagnosed mental health issues among first responders, military members, and veterans. They are the unseen scars these hero’s carry from serving for our country and experiencing life threatening or saving situations.
According to Mass General Brigham Mclean Hospital in The Effects of Trauma on Military Members and Their Families, “Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the most common health diagnoses U.S. service members receive. Research shows that 5-20% of service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have
developed the condition.”
When PTSD goes untreated, it can lead to additional risks on top of the ones a person may already have occurring. This can increase the rate of complications someone with PTSD may experience including sleep disturbances, suicidal thoughts, and substance abuse. It’s important to understand the symptoms of PTSD, both mild and severe. The faster one is to recognize their symptoms, the quicker they can be to get the right kind of help and deal with the trauma they face to avoid any further chances they potentially pose to developing worse symptoms.
Some Symptoms of PTSD
Recurring memories or dreams
Physical signs of stress
Staying away from places, events, or objects
Avoiding certain thoughts or feelings
Being easily startled
Feeling tense, on guard, or on edge
Having difficulty concentrating and sleeping
Feeling irritable or having outbursts
Engaging in destructive behavior
Trouble remembering key details
Ongoing negative emotions
Loss of interest
Feelings of social isolation
How Therapy Can Help Improve Symptoms of PTSD
It is important for people with PTSD to work with trained professionals that are specialized in this area of expertise. It can be a very tricky mental health issue to treat and having someone who knows what they are initially dealing with can give their patients the best chances of leading a better life.
The main treatments for PTSD include psychotherapy and exposure therapy. Psychotherapy, or more widely known as talk therapy, involves professionals using treatment techniques in order to help people understand and fix their uncontrolled emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. On the other hand, exposure therapy helps people learn to manage their trauma instead of just living with it. They do this by slowly exposing them to the fear they experience towards a specific situation or memory.
Different treatment modalities are a great way for people to work on themselves. It can show people how to uncover their subconscious thoughts and control their responses to triggers, by learning how to work through all the things that everyday brings to become more self aware. Specifically when seeking treatment for PTSD, looking for not only one on one therapy, but support groups can be super beneficial to one's recovery process. Providing a space for survivors to feel safe enough to talk in allows for them to more quickly and comfortably open up about their experience they individually deal with and begin to cope. Isolation can worsen the state of mind of someone with PTSD, specifically those who live alone, which is why this is key for them to have access to. It can also positively affect their journey by offering an environment for individuals going through similar experiences to push each other to open up in, give them the option to share things among their groups, and gain beneficial takeaways from listening to others experiences to think about afterwards. When people come together in the face of adversity, it can just simply be a nice reminder for those suffering that they are not alone in this difficult process or the only ones struggling.
Understanding that recovery is a daily challenge that takes time and effort, while also knowing that results don't happen overnight, is important to keep in mind when looking to gain back the feeling of control in one's life with PTSD. Actively coping with trauma and accepting the impact it's had on someone's life can give back the confidence they need to strengthen their ability to minimize their symptoms and reactions to them. This includes carrying on the actions and behaviors practiced to improve themselves, even when there is no current crisis in your everyday life.
Remembering that with PTSD, dealing with an ongoing response to traumatic events is normal and can be worked through can help bring peace to an individual during their healing process. Healing can mean many different things to many different people. To some it is feeling less bothered by certain situations or feelings, and to others it is being able to live each day without experiencing debilitating symptoms their PTSD can cause. With that being said, healing doesn’t always mean forgetting about the trauma and feelings those memories bring up. There is no sudden cure or miraculous fix for PTSD. The small milestones that occur within someone's recovery process happen little by little and vary person to person depending on how much energy they give to their own journey.
The Stepstone AWARE Program is designed to assist military service members, veterans, and first responders who are or were subjected to traumatic and high stress situations throughout their careers. We provide assistance to individuals that are enlisted or civilians and their organizations. Our program is helpful in addressing the mental health issues in military professionals, first responders, and their families. We want to provide a culturally competent mental health network and bring awareness to the mental health effects of serving by supporting those who support us, giving them the connections and resources to better their lives.
At Stepstone Connect, we understand that each individual may struggle with their mental health in different ways. The feelings we get can manifest in a multitude of ways and are important to address when an individual is ready. Our master-level clinicians are ready to help you deal with your trauma and slow the progression immediately. Our admissions team is on standby ready for your call to receive the care that you deserve. Reach out today at (866) 518-2985.