Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month

2 min read · 4 sections

During the month of June, we shine a spotlight on PTSD and its impact on the lives of those that live with this disorders. On June 27, PTSD Awareness Day, we also pay tribute to Staff Sergeant Joe Biel, who took his own life in 2007 after returning from his second tour of duty in Iraq. The day is meant to promote open discussion about PTSD, help individuals recognize the symptoms, and encourage them to get help for the condition.

What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition triggered by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. While most commonly associated with Veterans, anyone can develop PTSD.

PTSD can occur after an individual experiences any type of trauma. Some individuals develop this disorder following a shocking, scary, or dangerous event, such as military combat, sexual abuse, a natural disaster, a serious accident, or some other traumatic event.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 9 million people in the U.S. live with PTSD and 37% of those have severe symptoms. Women are more likely than men to receive a PTSD diagnosis.

There is effective PTSD treatment available. Unfortunately, most people with PTSD don’t get the help they need.

What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?

Symptoms of PTSD typically surface within 3 months of the traumatic event and may include:

  • Experiencing flashbacks or reliving the traumatic event in a manner that causes physical symptoms such as a racing heart or sweating.
  • Having recurring memories or nightmares related to the traumatic event.
  • Having distressing thoughts.
  • Avoiding places, events, or objects that are reminders of the traumatic experience.
  • Suppressing thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event.
  • Startling easily.
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate.
  • Experiencing insomnia or other sleep problems.
  • Feeling irritable or experiencing angry outbursts.
  • Engaging in risky, reckless, or destructive behavior.
  • Being unable to remember key features of the traumatic event.
  • Having negative thoughts about oneself or the world.
  • Directing blame at oneself or others in an exaggerated manner.
  • Experiencing ongoing negative emotions of fear, anger, guilt, or shame.
  • Isolating oneself socially.

Though symptoms vary from person to person, PTSD interferes with aspects of the individual’s daily life, such as work and relationships.

While only a qualified medical or mental health professional can formally diagnose PTSD, recognizing the signs and symptoms is a crucial first step in getting help for yourself or a loved one who may be struggling. Understanding PTSD can open the door to seeking appropriate support and resources, leading to healing and recovery.

How Can I Help Someone Who Has PTSD?

Helping someone with PTSD requires patience, understanding, and a willingness to learn about their specific needs. Some ways you can offer your help and support include:

  • Educating yourself. Learn about PTSD, its symptoms, and available treatments. This will help you understand what your loved one is going through and how to best support them.
  • Offer practical help. Assist with daily tasks, errands, or childcare. This alleviate stress and provide them with much-needed support.
  • Encourage professional help. If they haven’t already, gently encourage your loved one to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor specializing in trauma. You can help your loved one by finding effective evidence-based PTSD treatments and offering accompany them to appointments.
  • Foster a safe environment. Create a safe and supportive environment where your loved one feels comfortable expressing themselves without fear of judgment or criticism. You may wish to set up a time-out system for times when conversations get difficult. A time-out system can help maintain communication. Agree on a signal to pause the discussion, then separate for a predetermined amount of time before returning to talk calmly.
  • Encourage healthy coping mechanisms. Help your loved one find healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise, mindfulness, or spending time in nature.
  • Be patient and understanding. Recovery from PTSD takes time. Be patient with their progress and setbacks. Understand that their triggers may be unpredictable and that they may need space at times.

Treatment for PTSD

The good news is that PTSD is a treatable disorder. Mental health professionals may use psychotherapy, medications, or a combination of the two to treat PTSD.

If you or a loved one needs help for PTSD and or substance misuse or addiction, American Addiction Centers (AAC) offers several treatment programs, including treatment for co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders such as PTSD, anxiety, or depression and trauma-informed therapy that addresses childhood trauma, trauma experienced by Veterans and first responders, and more.

Call AAC at to speak to one of our compassionate and knowledgeable admissions navigators to learn more about the treatment options available to you or a loved one.

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