PTSD Awareness Month

By Ashley Barnes

What is PTSD Awareness Month?

June is PTSD Awareness Month and aims to spread awareness about the disorder, its causes, and its symptoms while also supporting and empowering those who experience it. 

What is PTSD?

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is described by the American Psychological Association as a disorder that “may result when an individual lives through or witnesses an event in which he or she believes that there is a threat to life or physical integrity and safety and experiences fear, terror, or helplessness” (2021). Hallmark PTSD symptoms as outlined by the American Psychological Association include: reexperiencing the trauma in painful recollections, flashbacks, or recurrent dreams or nightmares; avoidance of activities or places that recall the traumatic event, as well as diminished responsiveness (emotional anesthesia or numbing), with disinterest in significant activities and with feelings of detachment and estrangement from others; and chronic physiological arousal, leading to such symptoms as an exaggerated startle response, disturbed sleep, difficulty in concentrating or remembering, and guilt about surviving the trauma when others did not (2021). 

PTSD facts.

A PTSD diagnosis is given when symptoms last for more than four weeks; when symptoms do not last longer than four weeks, a diagnosis of acute stress disorder may be given. Many people associate war veterans as developing PTSD from combat and though this is a glaring concern for many veterans, PTSD can develop in response to other traumatic events as well. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, women are more likely to experience sexual assault and child sexual abuse while men are more likely to experience accidents, physical assault, combat, disaster, or to witness death or injury; these traumatic incidents may lead individuals to develop PTSD (2021). Around 6% of the U.S. population will develop PTSD at some point in their lives and around 15 million adults will develop and experience PTSD in a given year, only a small portion of those who have endured traumatic events (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2021). With this in mind, it is also important to consider that not all survivors of traumatic events develop PTSD. 

How to help.

In healing from trauma and managing PTSD symptoms, it is important to develop a strong support system such as friends, family, community, and mental health professionals. Seeking trauma-informed clinicians is essential in developing ways to better manage symptoms as they arise. Trauma-informed clinicians are well-versed in mental health care practices sensitive to trauma, informed by the ways in which trauma impacts an individual; treatment is also done in such a way where a patient is not retraumatized. These clinicians may utilize modalities such as trauma-informed cognitive behavioral therapy (T-CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR), or seeking safety. Still, some individuals may find that they experience intense symptoms that need more attention. Psychiatrists can provide medication management and monitoring, prescribing psychotropic medication that helps with managing these more impairing symptoms. 



American Psychological Association. (2021). Apa Dictionary of Psychology: PTSD. American Psychological Association. Retrieved December 21, 2021, from 

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2018, September 13). How Common is PTSD in Adults? U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved December 21, 2021, from