A veteran hearing fireworks on the Fourth of July can be thrust back into the sounds of war: bombs exploding, guns firing, the whistle of a mortar landing nearby. An individual who has experienced a violent sexual or physical attack can experience a heightened startle response and horrifying nightmares for years. Healthcare professionals, after volunteering in a third-world country, can suffer depression upon their return to the civilized world after witnessing some of life's harsher realities.
All of these are varying examples of post-traumtic stress disorder, or PTSD. June is National PTSD Awareness Month, and the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) is bringing awareness to this disorder with six facts you should know about PTSD:
- PTSD is an anxiety disorder, and a natural reaction. The degree of anxiety varies by individual and can occur immediately or far in the future following an event.
- Military personnel or veterans may be particularly susceptible to experiencing PTSD due to the nature of their work and their exposure to battle, war, and violent situations.
- However, it does not just affect military personnel or veterans. Anyone who has suffered an event that feels traumatic or life-threatening to them may experience PTSD.
- PTSD can also arise within emergency responders and healthcare professionals who are coping with adverse events that occur in everyday work.
- Symptoms include re-experiencing or reliving the event, avoiding things that evoke the event, and hyperarousal or feeling keyed up and agitated.
- If someone you love is exhibiting signs of PTSD, be supportive, but don't push. If suicide is mentioned, or if you are fearful that they may consider taking their life, seek help immediately. Do not wait. You can make the call if they are reluctant or unable – dial 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). The Veterans Crisis Line is 1-800-273-8255, press 1.
The AANA has culled together many resources to help those who suffer from PTSD. Learn more at www.aana.com/ptsd.