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Not All Wounds Are Visible – Understanding the Impact of Trauma

June is PTSD awareness month in many countries, and a condition all of us need to increase our understanding and appreciation of. Research from many fields, including disasters, suggests that around 20% of people exposed to a traumatic event will develop PTSD.

Like many mental health conditions, it is shrouded with stigma and misunderstanding. Many people associate the condition with military personnel or veterans following tours of duty and combat, but it is a condition that impacts the lives of many others in our society. All this month, TELL will be shining a light on this topic and treatment options that can help someone dealing with this condition.

What is PTSD? It stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and refers to a set of stress reactions that people who have experienced or witnessed traumatic events which threatened their life or safety, or that of others around them. These traumatic events could be the result of a disaster, a life-threatening illness, terrorist act, war, physical or sexual violence, witnessing someone’s death or a serious accident, to name just a few. First responders are at high risk of developing PTSD purely due to the nature of their work.  People with the condition experience intense disturbing and often intrusive thoughts and feelings, such as nightmares, flashbacks, and panic attacks that last long after the event has passed.

Furthermore, because these wounds cannot be seen, many survivors and those around them struggle to understand the condition or know how to support someone. In most cases, it goes untreated, leaving millions of people around the world struggling and feeling ashamed and weak. This has seen a movement in some countries to drop the letter D in an attempt to reduce some of the stigma surrounding mental illness and help people reach out for support. Others have argued that dropping the D has a tendency to minimize the toll and suffering many people with the condition experience.

Already numerous COVID-related studies are highlighting the toll on first responders and that one-third of COVID survivors have ongoing mental health issues. It is time for all of us to pay more attention to our mental health and the mental health of those around us and know how to support someone who may be struggling.  We can all play a role this month in raising awareness about this condition, you can learn more about the condition, share social media posts about the topic, spread awareness, share resources, and treatment options. If you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD, there are a range of effective treatments available, and the sooner a person can begin treatment, the better. Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy  CBT, Cognitive Processing Therapy CPT, Prolonged Exposure Therapy, PE, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy EMDR are some of the most effective treatments often in combination with medication.

For more information on any of these treatment options, you can reach out to TELL Counseling which has a range of clinicians with trauma-based training who can help you or a loved one. Join TELL in shattering the stigma around this condition and help people get the support they need.