The more we know about dealing with trauma and PTSD, the more we can help others.
This June, the VA’s National Center for PTSD needs your help to increase PTSD awareness. Here are some things you can do:
- Visit www.ptsd.va.gov to learn more about trauma and PTSD. Special postings will be made each week throughout June.
- Print educational materials from the site to hand out.
- Post a PTSD Awareness Day flyer (PDF) in a common area, where it can be seen.
Stay up-to-date throughout the year on PTSD treatment and research. Invite anyone who has dealt with trauma or works with trauma survivors, and others like you, to sign up for this PTSD Monthly Update.
Things to Know about Trauma and PTSD
Almost everyone who goes through a traumatic event will have some stress-related symptoms. Nightmares, intrusive thoughts, being easily startled or jumpy, and other reactions are common. These post traumatic symptoms can be similar to PTSD symptoms, but having these reactions does not automatically mean someone has PTSD.
There are some differences between stress reactions and PTSD. If the symptoms last longer than 4 weeks, cause you distress, or interfere with your work or home life, you should be evaluated for PTSD. PTSD involves a specific set of symptoms. It is diagnosed by a medical or mental health provider. Symptoms fall into these categories:
- Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms)
- Avoiding situations that remind you of the event
- Feeling numb
- Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal)
There are many things you can do if you think you might have PTSD. You can take a PTSD screen, or get an evaluation for PTSD from your doctor (see How is PTSD Measured). Remember that a positive screen means that you need to see a professional, not that you definitely have PTSD
Who Gets PTSD?
Anyone can develop PTSD: children, adults, men and women. One of the things that make someone more at risk for developing PTSD is more exposure to trauma. So someone who faced multiple traumas, or a single trauma that is very bad, is more likely to develop PTSD. Other risk factors include: getting seriously hurt, going through combat, or experiencing sexual trauma. PTSD treatment can help all different types of people.
What are Other Common Problems?
People with PTSD usually also have one or more related problems. These include:
- Drinking or drug problems
- Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair
- Employment or school problems
- Relationships problems
- Physical symptoms
PTSD treatment can also help with these issues.
How Common is Trauma? How common is PTSD?
Trauma includes events like disasters, abuse, assault and combat. How many people experience trauma in their life? 3%? 25%? 35%? Find out.
Even though trauma is common, going through a trauma doesn’t mean you’ll get PTSD. About 7-8% of all adults in the U.S. will deal with PTSD in their lives.
What Can You Do?
Following trauma, people who get strong support from others often do better. The more you understand and learn, the easier it is to be supportive. For some it can be difficult to admit there is a problem. For others stigma gets in the way of care. Find out some ways that you can help yourself or ways you can help a family member.
Effective treatment exists. Treatment can help improve life and early treatment is better (see Understanding PTSD Treatment). It is good to be ready if anyone asks to be able to tell them:
Are you looking for someone to help you or a family member?
For Providers and Researchers
Because trauma is common, a variety of providers work with clients or patients who are dealing with reactions to trauma, or full blown PTSD. Clergy, employee assistance program staff, law enforcement officials, primary care doctors, and others are likely to encounter trauma survivors and can benefit from learning more about PTSD.
If you are a provider with little experience dealing with trauma, information in this treatment overview will help you get started. Included is a free online course on What is PTSD?, part of the PTSD 101 curriculum described below.
Learn about All Aspects of PTSD: PTSD 101 Courses
Earn CEs for learning about trauma and PTSD from many of over 20 PTSD 101 courses. These courses are available to you at anytime online and information is presented by experts in the field. View the full list of courses, including one on Military Culture.
NEW to PTSD 101: VA/DoD PTSD Clinical Practice Guideline Series
Several PTSD Clinical Practice Guidelines currently exist to help providers. At the end of 2010, this VA/DoD PTSD Clinical Practice Guideline was revised. Over the coming year a series of courses is being added to PTSD 101 that cover these recommendations.
- The first course in the series is now live and is based on psychological first aid principles: Recommendations for Acute Stress Management and Prevention of PTSD
Improved Access to Treatment Resources
To help providers find information on a variety of aspects of treatment, some revisions were just made to the Provider and Researcher section of the www.ptsd.va.gov website. We realized that over half of the materials we made available were all listed under one ‘treatment’ category. Now, the website left navigation bar is divided into different treatment categories including:
- – Early Intervention (acute stress, disaster response, acute pharmacology)
- – Components/Modalities (couples and group therapy, telemental health, mindfulness)
- – Co-occurring Problems (SUD, grief, pain, mTBI)
- – Treating Specific Groups (women, ethnic groups, children)
- – Working with Families
- – For Specific Providers (medical doctors, clergy, disaster response workers)
Revised Web Sections for Professionals
There are also new sections on the Website covering Research on PTSD and the Biology of PTSD as well as the general PTSD Overview section. Instead of merely providing informational pages under each topic, professionals will now find related courses, videos, Web resource links, and publications under each topic.
Finally, the site also includes a way for you to find specific types of materials you may need for your work. Types of Products, Courses and Materials provides a list for you to choose from so you can find a useful video, a relevant course for free CE credit, a handout for your colleagues, or an article by a Center staff member.
PTSD Research Quarterly Latest Issue
RQ Vol. 22(2) Health Services Use in the Department of Veterans Affairs among Returning Iraq War and Afghan War Veterans with PTSD. Brian Shiner, MD, MPH
Research at NCPTSD
Evaluation research is vital to ensuring that the products, courses, and tools we apply are having the desired impact. The National Center for PTSD’s research portfolio contains several evaluation projects. For example, investigators are testing the effectiveness of the PTSD Coach mobile app and a trial is planned to assess the recently released product: Understanding PTSD Treatment. Other work focuses on how well providers learn skills from online modules. We hope to learn more about the most beneficial and cost effective methods of training providers to administer treatment.
Other PTSD News
Study: Men and Women Similarly Affected by Combat Stress
Stars and Stripes reports on a study conducted by Dr. Dawne Vogt of the VA’s National Center for PTSD and the Boston University School of Medicine. Her work shows that although overall more women than men deal with PTSD following trauma, for combat this relationship does not hold…
Dropping the ‘Disorder’ from PTSD. What Do Psychiatric Labels Mean?
TIME reports that Pentagon officials are trying to remove the disorder from PTSD, arguing that posttraumatic stress is a “normal reaction” to very serious events in soldiers’ …
New for Providers: Mobile App on mTBI (T2)
The Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Pocket Guide Mobile App is now available for professionals on Android Marketplace. It was developed by DoD’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2).