For millions of people around the world, the most traumatic events of their lives have never ended.
PTSD is a lingering reminder that turns every day into a potential minefield, with flashbacks and triggers potentially hidden around every corner. National PTSD Awareness Month is dedicated to raising awareness about this life-long struggle and the people it affects, and how each of us can help make their lives just a little easier.
History of National PTSD Awareness Month
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is nothing new, and has been recognized by psychology practitioners since at least 1952, where it appeared in the DSM-I as a “Gross Stress Reaction”, defined as a “normal personality using established patterns of reaction to deal with overwhelming fear”.
Even in these early days, it was recognized that it was a condition that existed within those who had experienced wartime as well as domestic traumas. It was with the establishment of the DSM-III that it got its current name, in part due to experiences of soldiers during the Vietnam War.
The research involved in this further definition shed some light on the experiences and diagnosis regarding problems facing soldiers and other patients who experienced trauma in former years, including railway spine, battle fatigue, traumatic war neurosis, etc.
Sadly there is no way to cure PTSD with present techniques, though there is a growing body of techniques to help manage these conditions, including psychotherapy, exercise therapy, service animals, and more.
National PTSD Awareness Month works to make the public more aware of this disorder, and to promote research to find further treatments, understand its causes, and determine what sort of preventative measures can be taken to keep it from developing in those who have experienced trauma.
How To Celebrate National PTSD Awareness Month
The best way to celebrate is to take the time to understand the experiences and day to day realities of those around you who may be suffering from PTSD.
Another important step is to never use the term PTSD lightly, like most psychological disorders there are people who will claim to experience it (with OCD being a common example) to simply describe personality quirks. This undermines the experiences of those who actually have these issues and denigrates the seriousness of the condition which can lead to misunderstandings about its cause and effects. Volunteering with local groups that aid veterans of wartime situations will also make a huge difference to those who deal with it every day, as support is always lacking.