June is PTSD awareness month. While we have come a long way in understanding just what PTSD is, we still have a long way to go.
The first thing that needs to be understood is that PTSD is not just a career thing, it is a trauma thing. Unfortunately, the emphasis is still on first responders and military and not on every day people who have suffered trauma in their lives. I’m sure this leads to many people being misdiagnosed and untreated. The second thing that we need to realize is that PTSD is not just a mind thing, but it’s a body and spirit thing as well. This requires a three prong treatment approach that deals with all three. All three retain the same memories and trauma, therefore to deal with just the mind won’t fully heal PTSD.
One other thing that needs to be addressed is the “book” approach to PTSD, psychiatrists and psychologists need to start learning from their patients about the effects of PTSD and not just from text books. This is how the learning about PTSD will evolve and not stay stuck in the same old cut and paste rhetoric.
I see a lot of services available for first responders and military to deal with PTSD that are not available to other PTSD sufferers. That needs to change, again it’s the focus on PTSD being career related and not trauma related. When I did a search for service dogs, I could only find one organization who offered service dogs for people who simply had been diagnosed with PTSD, all the rest were for first responders and military.
There needs to be better public education and awareness, for the general public, for all first responders (starting with training) and also for the military (starting with training). The attitude that exists around PTSD and the fact that you are some how “weak” as a first responder or member of the military for reporting you have it, has to change. The attitude that you are some how a “danger” has to change as well. These people need help not to be made to feel like “lepers” because they saw or had to deal with too much on the job.
If you have a friend or family member who suffers from PTSD, get yourself educated on what it is and how best you can support them, with their input also. They don’t need you to pull back and treat them like some anomaly, they need your love and support, just as if they had any other kind or sickness or injury, they also need your understanding.
Please use PTSD awareness month to become aware and educated and maybe together we can help get a handle on this thing that destroys so many lives.