June is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness month. Today, and every June 27th, is PTSD awareness day. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, PTSD affected around 3.6% of the adult U.S. population in the last year.
Causes of PTSD
In recent years awareness for PTSD has been raised due to the prevalence among veterans. It is important to remember that PTSD is not limited to veterans or first responders.
“PTSD can develop after exposure to a potentially traumatic event that is beyond a typical stressor,” states the NIMH website. “Events that may lead to PTSD include, but are not limited to, violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, combat, and other forms of violence. Exposure to events like these is common. About one-half of all U.S. adults will experience at least one traumatic event in their lives, but most do not develop PTSD.”
PTSD vs. C-PTSD
“PTSD is a psychiatric condition caused by severe, life-threatening trauma such as witnessing a death or natural disaster. Complex PTSD describes a more severe and long-term condition that can occur after prolonged and repeated trauma, particularly in childhood,” states the Australian Government website, HealthDirect.
It is not uncommon to see PTSD and C-PTSD referred to as just PTS and C-PTS. This is due to the belief that those with Post-traumatic stress do not have a disorder.
“To be diagnosed with PTSD, an adult must have all of the following for at least one month:”
- At least one re-experiencing symptom
- Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
- Bad dreams
- Frightening thoughts
- At least one avoidance symptom
- Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the traumatic experience
- Avoiding thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event
- At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms
- Being easily startled
- Feeling tense or “on edge.”
- Having difficulty sleeping
- Having angry outbursts
- At least two cognition and mood symptoms
- Trouble remembering key features of the traumatic event
- Negative thoughts about oneself or the world
- Distorted feelings like guilt or blame
- Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders lists the emotional and physical symptoms or C-PTSD as:
- Rage displayed through violence, destruction of property, or theft
- Depression, denial, fear of abandonment, thoughts of suicide, anger issues
- Low self-esteem, panic attacks, self-loathing
- Perfectionism, blaming others instead of dealing with a situation, selective memory
- Loss of faith in humanity, distrust, isolation, inability to form close personal relationships
- Shame, guilt, focusing on wanting revenge
- Flashbacks, memory repression, dissociation
- Eating disorders, substance abuse, alcoholism, promiscuity
- Chronic pain
- Cardiovascular problems
- Gastrointestinal problems.
Both medication, therapy, and a combination of both therapy and medication are viable treatment options for PTSD and C-PTSD. Individuals diagnosed with or who believe they may have PTSD or C-PTSD should speak to their medical practitioner or licensed mental health professional to determine the best treatment options for them.
PTSD Service Dogs
Some individuals with PTSD or C-PTSD may utilize a psychiatric service dog. An assistance dog trained tasks to aide their handler to mitigate symptoms associated with their PTSD is not an emotional support dog. These dogs are task trained with full public access rights.
Some tasks a psychiatric service dog may perform for a handler with PTSD or C-PTSD are:
- Disrupting flashbacks
- Disrupting nightmares and night terrors
- Alleviate anxiety/distress and provide psycho-emotional grounding
- Preventing and/or disrupting panic attacks
- Intervening and/or disrupting flashbacks
- Provide a physical barrier between their handler and the public
- Alert their handler to approaching individuals
- Lead their handler to specific people
- Stop self-harm behavior
- Remind their handler to take medication
- Provide stress-reducing pressure on trained body points
- Create a social bridge as a point of conversation
The AE’s unofficial mascot, Six, is my service dog and is task trained to mitigate symptoms of my PTSD.
Last month my Mental Health Awareness Playlist was dedicated to PTSD. I chose the songs on this list because, as someone living with C-PTSD, each one of them resonate with me.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, know that someone is always available. No one fights alone.
Pierce County Crisis Line – Ph: 1 (800) 576-7764
King County Crisis Line – Ph: (206) 461-3222 or 1 (800) 244-5767
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (ESP) –1-888-628-9454
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Deaf & Hard of Hearing Options) – 1-800-799-4889
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Chat – https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/
Crisis Text Line – Text HOME to 741741 in the US
The TrevorLifeline – 1-866-488-7386.
TrevorChat can be found at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help-now/ (available 7 days a week from 3PM to 10PM ET).
TrevorText can be reached by texting TREVOR to 1-202-304-1200 (available M-F from 3PM to 10PM ET).
The Trevor Project is a nationwide organization that provides a 24-hour phone hotline, as well as limited-hour webchat and text options, for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.
The Trans Lifeline – 1-877-565-8860.
The Trans Lifeline is a nonprofit organization that is created by and for the transgender community, providing crisis intervention hotlines, staffed by transgender individuals, available in the United States and Canada.
The Veterans Crisis Line – 1-800-273-8255, Press 1.
Safe Call Now – 1-206-459-3020 Safe Call Now is a 24/7 helpline staffed by first responders for first responders and their family members. They can assist with treatment options for responders who are suffering from mental health, substance abuse, and other personal issues.
Fire/EMS Helpline: 1-888-731-FIRE (3473)
Copline: 1-800-COPLINE / 1-800-267-5463
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
King County Sexual Assault Resource Line: 1-888-998-6423
Pierce County Sexual Assault Center: 1-800-756-7273
National Domestic Abuse Hotline:1-800-799-7233
National Domestic Abuse Hotline (TTY): 1-800-787-3224
Domestic Abuse Women’s Network (King County) – 425-656-7867
The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: (800) 422-4453
National Runaway Safe-Line: 1-800-Run-Away (1-800-786-2929)
National Eating Disorders Center Helpline: (800) 931-2237
Open M-F, 9-9pm
SAMHSA’s National Helpline: (800) 662-4357
Washington Recovery Help Line – 1-866-789-1511
WA Recovery Chat: http://www.warecoveryhelpline.org/chat/
The Washington Recovery Help Line is a program of Crisis Connections. We offer an anonymous, confidential 24-hour helpline for Washington State residents. Our services include crisis intervention and referral assistance related to substance use disorder, problem gambling, and mental health challenges. Professionally-trained volunteers and staff provide emotional support and connect callers with local treatment resources or additional community services.
Reddit Suicide support: https://www.reddit.com/r/SuicideWatch/
Suicide.org list of local helplines for all 50 states: http://www.suicide.org/suicide-hotlines.html
Suicide survivor support groups: http://tinyurl.com/m47k5en
211 and WA211.org: 2-1-1 connects callers, at no cost, to critical health and human services in their community.