In 2010, the US Senate designated that National Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Day be observed on June 27th.
PTSD has long been recognized as a mental disorder resulting from a traumatic event experienced by an individual. In the United States, the National Comorbidity Survey Replication has estimated that the lifetime prevalence of PTSD among adult Americans is 6.8%, with women (9.7%) more than twice as likely as men (3.6%) to have PTSD at some point in their lives. More than 60% of men and more than 60% of women experience at least one traumatic event in their life. The most frequently reported traumatic events by men are rape, combat, and childhood neglect or physical abuse. Women most frequently report instances of rape, sexual molestation, physical attack, being threatened with a weapon and childhood physical abuse. 88% of men and 79% of women with lifetime PTSD have at least one comorbid psychiatric disorder. Major depressive disorder, 48% of men and 49% of women, and lifetime alcohol abuse or dependence, 51.9% of men and 27.9% of women, are the most common comorbid disorders. It is estimated that globally about 354 million adult survivors of war suffer from PTSD and/or MD, of which about 117 million are estimated to suffer from comorbid PTSD and MD.
Symptoms of PTSD generally begin within the first 3 months after the inciting traumatic event, but may not begin until years later. In the typical case, the individual with PTSD persistently avoids trauma-related thoughts and emotions, and discussion of the traumatic event, and may even have amnesia of the event. Trauma survivors often develop depression, anxiety disorders, and mood disorders in addition to PTSD.
PTSD can come from a diverse range of traumatic experiences and therefore can be difficult to identify and diagnose. There are several different methods available for testing and screening for PTSD, which can greatly assist in treatment.
Watch for symptoms may include nightmares or unwanted memories of the trauma, avoidance of situations that bring back memories of the trauma, heightened reactions, anxiety, or depressed mood.
People who have PTSD may experience the following:
- Behavioral: agitation, irritability, hostility, hypervigilance, self-destructive behavior, or social isolation
- Psychological: flashback, fear, severe anxiety, or mistrust
- Mood: loss of interest or pleasure in activities, guilt, or loneliness
- Sleep: insomnia or nightmares
- Also common: emotional detachment or unwanted thoughts
For National PTSD Awareness Day, it is encouraged for individuals and organizations to educate themselves on PTSD to better help themselves and to help support others, especially considering how prevalent it is in our society.