By Joni Agronin, NAMI Communications Intern
June is PTSD awareness month and in an effort to help as many people as possible, Thursday, June 20 has been named PTSD Screening Day. Screening for Mental Health, Inc. has made a self-assessment available to the public and encourages anyone who may be experiencing symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder or is concerned about a loved one to take the test to make an initial evaluation.
Over the last year, many communities across the United States have experienced tragedies. From shootings in Aurora, Co. and Newtown, Conn., to the Boston Marathon bombing, natural disasters and other events, it is an unfortunate fact that anyone can experience trauma.
According to the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, about 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women will experience a traumatic event in their lifetime and the numbers are even higher for members of the armed forces.
Everyone deals with trauma differently but sometimes events can have a strong and permanent affect on the brain of victims. These disruptions in the normal functioning of an individual’s brain can drastically impair their ability to heal and potentially lead to anxiety, anger, violence, sleeplessness and many other symptoms. These symptoms may appear immediately or take months to occur and can affect both individuals and communities alike. The persistence of these symptoms over time is referred to as posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD but up to 20 percent of those individuals may. Twenty percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans experience PTSD, half of which may never seek treatment.
In the wake of the tragedies our nation faced this year, as well as events that happen every day in combat or at home, it is especially important to remember that help and support are available.
The online test is free and anonymous and while it does not offer a diagnosis it may help explain symptoms and provide information about when and how to seek further assessment by a clinician.
There are many options available to individuals who may want to seek treatment or simply want to learn more about the disorder. Anyone can experience symptoms of PTSD and you are absolutely not alone.