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      Art therapy project to help treat soldiers with PTSD. The mask on the left was made by a US Army flight medic - National Intrepid Center of Excellence


      Every June 27th, PTSD Awareness Day is observed. PTSD, which stands for Post-traumatic stress disorder, is a mental condition that afflicts both civilians and military personnel, either active or retired.

      As with most mental conditions, symptoms may vary significantly and may be non-specific. However, some "red flags" that may indicate PTSD are hypervigilance, flashbacks, nightmares, persistent memories, and intrusive thoughts about a specific event. In addition, suicidal thoughts and self-destructive behavior can be related to PTSD or its symptoms.

      If you feel or know someone with those symptoms or have urges of any self-harm, please, seek help. PTSD is part of the human condition, and it is natural that some people may develop it. It doesn't make you any lesser than any other people, nor make you weaker.

      Treatment of PTSD usually starts with counseling, with a plethora of different methods and approaches. Also, medications can be part of the treatment. The Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities, private care providers, counselors, and therapists can help establish initial care or refer those who have PTSD to a qualified care provider.

      Identifying Symptoms and Warning Signs

      Symptoms may start months or even years after the traumatic event, and they sometimes come and go over time.

      People with PTSD typically develop the following symptoms:

      — Painful memories, or reliving the trauma (flashbacks)

      — Edginess, hypervigilance, and/or insomnia

      — Avoidance of triggers, including activities or situations that used to be enjoyable

      — Increase in sadness, depression, and/or negative thinking

      You Can Do Something About it

      There is real hope. With awareness on the rise, help is more available than ever before. Care is crucial after identifying PTSD. Patients who receive treatment report a higher quality of life than those who avoid care. Seeking social support from family, friends, and others also benefits many patients.

      Veterans are encouraged to contact the VA for help with PTSD: http://www.va.gov/directory/guide/PTSD.asp

      Active duty/retired personnel with PTSD should schedule an appointment with a primary care manager or mental health provider: https://tricare.mil/mtf/

      Civilians who are experiencing PTSD should speak with their doctor for a referral to a specialist. You can search for local providers here: https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/

      To learn more, visit the National Center for PTSD: https://www.ptsd.va.gov/


      You're not alone in this fight. Stay strong.

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