National PTSD Awareness Day

By Daniel Pierce

What is PTSD?

PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault. (from National Center for PTSD)

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

While PTSD develops differently from veteran to veteran, there are four symptom clusters:

1. Recurrent, intrusive reminders of the traumatic event.

2. Extreme avoidance of things that remind you of the traumatic event.

3. Negative changes in your thoughts and mood.

4. Being on guard all the time, jumpy, and emotionally reactive.

How to deal with PTSD (in recovery):

1. Get moving/get regular exercise.

2. Self-regulate your nervous system

a. mindful breathing

b. sensory imput - this can quickly calm you - thoughts on what comforted you during your deployment, listening to your favorite music or petting an animal.

c. reconnect emotionally

3. Connect with others

4. Take care of your body

5. Deal with flashbacks, nightmares and intrusive thoughts

6. Work through survivor's guilt

7. Seek professional help

(for more info/help see HELPGUIDE.ORG

How can you help a Veteran with PTSD?

1. Don't take the symptoms of PTSD personally.

2. Don't pressure them to talk.

3. Be patient and understanding.

4. Try to anticipate and prepare for PTSD triggers such as certain sounds, sights, or smells.

5. Take care of yourself. Don't let your loved one dominate your life while you ignore your own needs.