Post-traumatic stress disorder can be the result of someone experiencing an event that creates a heightened sense of terror or helplessness. PTSD can cause debilitating anxiety and fear throughout the remainder of the affected person’s life.
Although PTSD may be associated with combat and the military, non-combat related incidents such as assaults, natural disasters, abuse and accidents can also cause the onset of the disorder.
In 2010, Congress named June 27 PTSD Awareness Day. In 2014, the Senate designated the full month of June for National PTSD Awareness to promote effective treatment of the disorder throughout the year.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in the last decade, rapid progress in research on the mental and biological foundations of PTSD has led scientists to focus on prevention as a realistic and important goal. Talk therapy, exposure therapy, behavior therapy, and pharmaceutical therapy are some of the avenues of treatment used by mental health professionals. For some people, getting relief from symptoms involves trying more than one approach if the first approach does not work.
For those suffering from PTSD, avoiding seeking help can be detrimental if left untreated. The disorder could manifest itself through depression, temperament issues and substance abuse.
“In our experience, commanders have been highly supportive of their members going through treatment,” said Maj. Sonia Pons 628th Medical Group Mental Health flight commander. “Everything that is discussed in your session during a Mental Health visit is confidential with the following exceptions; we are mandated reporters for UCMJ violations. We have an obligation to protect children and intervene in the presence of domestic violence. Our goal is to protect your life, in the presence of suicidality or homicidally a different course of action may be required such as a hospitalization or the implementation of a support and safety plan.”
As service members, there is an obligation to fellow Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers and Marines to have their best interest in mind. Although the motto for the critical days of summer campaign is “See something, say something,” the phrase can be applied year-round.
“If you have symptoms that interfere with your quality of life, or you hear friends and loved ones making negative comments about your mood, your behavior or you notice a drastic decline in your mental health and abilities, seek a consultation and consider treatment because most symptoms don’t go away on their own,” said Pons. “Let [mental health] assist you in your recovery, enhance your overall performance and help you achieve a higher quality of life. There is no reason to accept your symptoms, but there are many reasons for you to seek and achieve a better version of yourself.”
If you or someone you know is suffering from PTSD, please call your local MTF.