June 27 marks PTSD Awareness Day, when dialogue about post-traumatic stress disorder is encouraged to spread knowledge and increase awareness.
The condition can affect veterans, children and first responders, and can manifest in a number of ways.
“PTSD is something that is diagnosed when you look at someone who, for a month or more, is experiencing some extreme symptoms based on a traumatic event,” said Tricia Pearce, Community Relations Specialist at Life Management Center of Northwest Florida Inc.
PTSD can stem from many types of traumatic events, including military combat, sexual assault, experiencing a mass trauma such as a shooting or terrorist attack, or witnessing someone else’s trauma take place. The symptoms of PTSD may not appear in an individual for months, or possibly years, following the specific event.
“[Symptoms] can be things like trying to avoid situations that were a part of that traumatic event,” Pearce said. “It can be exhibiting behaviors, such as anger, other stress reactions that you can see. They may even have some flashbacks, and really the flashbacks can even be as vivid as them really believing they are back in that moment.”
The latest Wounded Warrior Project Annual Warrior Survey reported nearly four in five of the veterans it serves report living with PTSD symptoms. A day of awareness provides a platform to understand how stigmas surrounding mental health can keep veterans from receiving the help they need.
“There are ways that they can reach out to get help,” Pearce said. “The Vet Center here in town even has ways they can reach out that isn’t even reported back to the military. So, don’t hesitate to reach out.”
PTSD affects more than 8 million Americans, according to the Wounded Warrior Project. The Life Management Center, as well as national organizations, have hotlines available for anyone to call to seek assistance.