Almost 25 million people in the U.S. at any given time are living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to the support and advocacy group PTSD United. That includes thousands of Tennesseans left with the illness from a traumatic event such as a crime, natural disaster or events surrounding military service.
Dr. Matthew Friedman, a senior adviser with the Veterans Administration's National Center for PTSD, says the diagnosis is only part of seeking help. "On the one hand, there are resilient people who meet the full diagnostic criteria for PTSD, but they can cope with the symptoms, and then there are other people for whom PTSD is completely debilitating," he states.
Friedman says therapies have advanced to include cognitive behavior therapy and medications that help people work through their illness. Friedman says while it's normal to experience stress after a traumatic event, you should seek the help of a professional if it lasts longer than three months, disrupts your home or work life or you find yourself reliving the event frequently and experiencing flashbacks.
"We really want people to recognize that they've got PTSD and if they're not sure they should see a professional who can help them sort that out and if they do, then we have treatments that work," he stresses. "People who think they have PTSD, or their loved one has PTSD should seek treatment."
The annual cost to society of anxiety disorders is estimated to be significantly over $42 billion, often due to misdiagnosis and under treatment. This includes psychiatric and non-psychiatric medical treatment costs, indirect workplace costs, mortality costs and prescription drug costs.
Types of Trauma Associated with PTSD:
- Physical or sexual assault
- Natural disaster such as a tornado, flood, or fire
- Being in or witnessing a serious car accident
- Sudden or violent death of someone close
- Serious injury, major surgery, or life-threatening illness
- Domestic or family violence, dating violence, community violence
- War, terrorism, bullying, or political violence
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