Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder in which a person struggles to recover after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. The condition may last months or years and may be characterized by triggers that can cause memories of the traumatic event to resurface, accompanied by intense emotional and physical reactions. Common PTSD symptoms include nightmares, unwanted memories of the incident, avoidance of certain situations, and more. Considering the trauma that many men and women witness during deployment, PTSD is common among veterans and active-duty members. In their honor, today we’re sharing more on PTSD Awareness Day 2022 and how you can participate.
The first mention of PTSD in known literature is in a poem written in 50 B.C. by Hippocrates. Also known as the Father of Medicine, Hippocrates was a Greek physician of the classical period who was best known for his books about medicine, of which he wrote almost 70.
He wrote a narrative about a soldier who struggled with PTSD-like combat flashbacks after a traumatic combat battle experience. Since then, PTSD has appeared in various writings, including writings about the Hundred Year’s War between England and France and even Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
A new understanding of PTSD came with the Civil War in the 1800s, as the disorder became widely known throughout the country. At the time, PTSD was known by various names, including “railway spine.” It wasn’t until the disorder was published in the medical journal The Lancet in February 1915 as “shell shock” that some understanding of PTSD was formally introduced.
Eventually, World War I highlighted the disorder, where shell-shocked soldiers saw symptoms of this condition in a number of ways, including an inability to cease shaking. They would find their body continuing to tremble even after the battles had long passed. At the time, rudimentary treatments like electric shock therapy were employed in an effort to treat the level of trauma not often witnessed by a majority of medical professionals at the time. It was in the 1950s when more modern treatments – like group therapy – were introduced.
The Vietnam War threw the disorder into the spotlight once again. This coincided with research done by psychologists on both Holocaust and sexual assault survivors, which helped prove that different kinds of trauma can contribute to PTSD.
It is difficult to imagine how it feels to experience these scenarios unless you do so yourself. In the words of New York Times columnist David Brooks, “The victims of PTSD often feel morally tainted by their experiences, unable to recover confidence in their own goodness, trapped in a sort of spiritual solitary confinement, looking back at the rest of the world from beyond the barrier of what happened. They find themselves unable to communicate their condition to those who remained at home, resenting civilians for their blind innocence.”2
Ultimately, PTSD was added to the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) in 1980, officially being recognized as a mental health disorder. Today, it’s considered largely treatable.
Senator Kent Conrad recognized June 27th as National PTSD Awareness Day to honor a North Dakota National Guard member who had committed suicide after two tours of duty in Iraq. In 2014, the entire month of June was designated as National Awareness Month by the Senate. This holiday was conceived in order to shine a light on the struggles that many veterans face. Even though empathizing with such an unthinkable situation seems daunting, we owe it to the courageous heroes that faced it all in the name of our freedom and liberty.
Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the severity of PTSD. As with other mental health disorders, there’s also a lot of stigma surrounding PTSD that muddies the truth of the condition and makes it difficult for individuals with the disorder to reach out for help.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can observe National PTSD Awareness Day:
Banyan Treatment Centers offers a Military and Veterans in Recovery program that offers mental health services for past and present service members. Our specialists utilize various evidence-based treatment modalities, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), to help clients with PTSD better understand their symptoms and learn how to cope with them in healthy and effective ways.
Our military rehab center also offers drug addiction treatment for veterans and active-duty service members to help individuals with co-occurring disorders or substance use disorders achieve recovery, as well. Mental illness and addiction often co-occur, and it’s normal for people who struggle with PTSD, depression, and anxiety to turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate.
No matter how long you’ve been struggling with mental illness or addiction, our military and veterans addiction treatment centers can help. Call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763 to learn how to get started.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs - PTSD: National Center for PTSD
The New York Times - The Moral Injury