70% of adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lifetime. Of those about 20% will develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In any given year, about 7.7 million U.S. adults are affected by PTSD. PTSD can occur after being involved in a traumatic event and can affect both children and adults. PTSD may develop after a person has been harmed or witnessed a loved one or others being harmed. A traumatic event can include combat exposure, violent crime, natural disasters, a serious illness or death, and accidents.
For those who do develop PTSD, the symptoms can begin shortly after or can occur months or sometimes even years after the event. Common symptoms of adults with PTSD include:
> Flashbacks or feeling that the traumatic event is occurring again
> Scary thoughts that a person can’t control
> Avoidance of places and things that remind you of the event
> Guilt, worry, and sadness
> Trouble sleeping
> Angry outbursts
> Thoughts of harming yourself or others
There are several options for treating PTSD. Treatment for PTSD will vary from person to person and may include therapy, medication, or combination of both.
For more information on PTSD, visit the National Institute of Mental Health. Take an anonymous and free online PTSD self-assessment.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – National Center for PTSD
For the past six years, the Mental Health Association of Minnesota has partnered with Screening for Mental Health, Inc. to provide anonymous online screening for mood and anxiety disorders. Just in the last year, nearly 1,000 assessments were completed. This free online assessment only takes a few minutes to complete and screens for depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. At the end of each screening, a post-assessment is provided for the individual to review. Though not a substitute for a complete evaluation, it does help determine whether or not a consultation from a health professional or clinician would be helpful. For those who have limited or no health insurance, MHAM can help find a sliding fee clinic or other medical coverage options. To speak with an advocate, call 651-493-6634 or 800-862-1799 between 9am and 4:30pm, Monday through Friday. To take this mobile-friendly screening, visit the MHAM website.
According to a 2008 study conducted by the RAND Corporation, many returning veterans that had been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan as part of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom had significant mental health issues. Of the 1,945 that were surveyed, 14% met the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 14% met the criteria for major depression, and 19% had a probable traumatic brain injury (TBI). About one-third of these returning veterans had at least one of these conditions.
Last year, the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) launched the Real Warriors Campaign directed towards service members, veterans, their families, and health professionals. The goal of the campaign is to reduce stigma associated with psychological health problems and traumatic brain injury. The campaign encourages and supports service members to seek help through the many resources that are available to them and their families. Along with helpful resources and a 24/7 information and help line, the Real Warriors campaign’s website draws upon the courageous stories of service members and veterans that found the strength to seek help and how it made a positive difference in their lives.