October 29, 2008
Arlington, VA—For Veterans Day, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has released a new 14-page brochure on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), treatment and recovery.
It is available on line at www.nami.org/PTSD and is intended to help individuals experiencing symptoms or diagnosed with the illness, along with their families and caregivers.
"PTSD affects individuals and families," said NAMI medical director Ken Duckworth, M.D. "Traumatic events produce biological responses that affect the mind, brain, and body. Those changes involve everyone."
"Over a lifetime, approximately 5 percent of men and 10 percent of women are diagnosed with PTSD," Duckworth said. "Risk factors include the type of trauma, degree of exposure and any prior history of trauma. In most cases, there is a direct physical impact. Proximity in witnessing violent, life-threatening events also makes a difference."
An estimated 14 percent of American soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq will experience PTSD. Symptoms include poor concentration, sleeplessness, nightmares, flashbacks, heightened fear, anxiety and disassociation (feeling "unreal" or cut off from emotions).
But PTSD is not limited to military veterans.
Natural disasters and sexual assault, including child abuse, are other examples of traumatic events that can cause PTSD. Following Hurricane Katrina, many children in Gulf Coast communities experienced the same kinds of symptoms as soldiers who fought in war.
Family members often are distressed to find loved ones "different" following a traumatic experience. Many feel overwhelmed and experience "caregiver burnout." Others, especially children, may find themselves developing similar fears or symptoms, in what sometimes has been called the "transmission of trauma" across generations.
Treatment may involve a combination of medication and therapy, including group therapy.
"Support systems are critical to healing," Duckworth said.
The NAMI brochure includes the following sections:
Psychological Trauma & PTSD
NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by serious mental illnesses.
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