National PTSD Awareness Month is observed in June, spreading awareness about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, traumatic or dangerous event. According to the National Center for PTSD, about six percent of the population will have PTSD at some point in their lives, and there are currently about 12 million people in the United States living with PTSD.

Unfortunately, even though PTSD treatments work, most people who have PTSD don’t get the help they need. This month is a time to raise awareness that effective PTSD treatments are available. If you know someone who you believe is experiencing PTSD, there are several ways to help support them:

  1. Be a resource. First, you must learn to understand the signs and symptoms of this mental health condition. To be diagnosed with PTSD, an adult must have all of the following for at least 1 month: at least one re-experiencing symptom (i.e. flashbacks, bad dreams); at least one avoidance symptom (avoiding thoughts or feelings linked to the experience); at least two arousal and reactivity symptoms (easily startled, bouts of anger, etc.); and at least two cognition and mood symptoms (difficulty remembering parts of the experience, negative thoughts, distorted feelings, etc.). Next, you can share resources such as the National Center for PTSD, Veterans Crisis Line, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
  2. Offer emotional support, empathy, understanding, patience, and encouragement. When you try to understand what your loved one is going through, they feel supported and encouraged, and most importantly, not alone. You may encourage them to see a doctor and offer to go to doctor visits together. You can help keep track of medicine and therapy, and you can be there for support.
  3. Be an empathic listener. Pay attention to the person’s feelings and the situations that may trigger PTSD symptoms. Using active listening techniques combined with a reflection of feelings and empathy to better understand what your loved one is going through can help them feel understood and supported.
  4. Find time to connect. Share and encourage finding positive distractions, such as getting fresh air together, exercising, meeting for coffee or joining a team together.
If your loved one seems to be withdrawing or doesn’t want your help, they could need extra space to process their feelings, but don’t give up hope or help. It is important for anyone with PTSD symptoms to work with a mental health professional who has experience finding the best treatment plan for PTSD.

PTSD Awareness Month: Effective Treatments are Available