2018-06-20 / Front Page

June is PTSD Awareness Month

After his tour of duty in Iraq, a Putnam County veteran could not wait to get home to be with his family and resume his job as an air traffic controller. His family was grateful that he was unharmed and eager for his return.

Family dreams of a normal life, however, quickly turned to nightmares as the soldier began to experience panic attacks when he saw a bird fly up from the side of the road making him fear enemy attack or sudden noises gave him flashbacks of enemy fire. He could not fall asleep easily and when he did nightmares caused him to attack his sleeping wife when he brushed against her, fearing that he was encountering an enemy.

He lost his job as an air traffic controller because he could not manage the stress.

A Putnam County elementary school student survived the car accident that took the life of her father. A high schooler now, she still suffers from flashbacks of the accident and has difficulty focusing on her studies.

These Putnam County residents are experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder commonly called PTSD, a disorder that some people develop after experiencing a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. This fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to respond to danger and help a person avoid danger in the future. This “fight-or-flight” response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm.

Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people will recover from those symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are no longer in danger.

According to statistics from the National Institute for Mental Health the lifetime prevalence of PTSD was 6.8 percent in the United States in 2007.

It is important for anyone who suspects that they may have PTSD or to be diagnosed and treated by a mental health provider who is experienced with PTSD. Individuals affected by PTSD respond to treatment differently and may need to try different treatments to find what works to relieve their symptoms.

June is National PTSD awareness month. Mental Health America’s website has a PTSD screening checklist you can take online and the APA (American Psychological Association) has a fact sheet for individuals and families.

If you are unsure where to go for help or know someone who needs help, ask your family doctor or call a mental health provider near you. Mental Health America of Putnam County also provides assistance in finding mental health providers in your area, and you can contact us at 765-653-3310.

For more information about mental wellness topics and free mental wellness screenings, visit Mental Health America of Putnam County Facebook page at fb.me/mhaopcindiana or MHA’s national website at mentalhealthamerica.net.

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