It’s the middle of your day, and you’re going about your daily routine, when all of a sudden, something triggers your mind to travel back to a painful trauma you’ve experienced. It could be flash of light, an image on TV, a loud noise or something else that causes you to stop, overcome with the anxiety related to reliving the trauma. For many, these feelings of anxiety could be related to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), PTSD is an anxiety disorder that people experience after witnessing or living through dangerous events, including wars, accidents, physical or sexual assault. Like other mental illnesses, anyone can be affected by PTSD. Between 7-8% of the country’s population will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. June is PTSD Awareness Month, and it is important to fully understand this condition as it is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), PTSD can often be extremely debilitating. Most times, PTSD occurs with other anxiety related disorders like depression. When differentiating PTSD from other anxiety disorders, there are key on going symptoms to look for, including re-experiencing the original traumatic event through flashbacks, feeling cut off from others, changes in behavior and avoidance of factors that cause flashbacks. Occasionally, symptoms of PTSD may not appear until several months or weeks following the original trauma, which can make an accurate diagnosis difficult to pinpoint. Or, the symptoms are similar to other anxiety disorders. NIH states that the key to reaching a diagnosis  is through open conversation with medical professionals.

Despite the seriousness of PTSD and other mental illnesses, there is still oftentimes stigmas and embarrassment associated with having a mental illness and seeking treatment for it. Yet, in today’s society, mental health really matters. If we take the time and the steps to encourage people to reach out, get the treatment they need, and not be fearful of how family and friends will react, we can slowly move away from negative connotations surrounding mental health.

This year, News Generation is partnering with Bank of Georgetown as they support Cornerstone Montgomery’s #MentalHealthMatters campaign as part of their ‘Give Back: Tenfold’ initiative to celebrate serving the community for ten years. #MentalHealthMatters is a campaign designed to remove the stigma associated with those dealing with mental health issues by raising awareness through social media and sharing personal stories aimed at empowering those most vulnerable members of our community.

In next week’s post, a closer look at how PTSD affects different groups of people.

Stay tuned…

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