June is PTSD Awareness Month

EWC has partnered with Trauma Resource Network. WHY? Because trauma is a component or result of many of our whole health and wellness concerns. Since this is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness month, we thought we would talk a little about how some people are not able to cope with trauma in the long term without a little help or understanding of what trauma is and how it can be treated.

I think it is safe to say that most, if not all, people will experience at least one trauma before the age of 25. Many of us are so resilient, however, that we may not even recognize that the event could have been considered traumatic or that someone else who experienced the same thing will experience it differently than we do. Perception, experience, education, lifestyle, chemical processes, disease, and so many other things actually play into how a person experiences and interprets a single experience or conversation.

Have you ever heard someone tell a story of fear and distress, and you thought, “What on earth is that person thinking? I was there, too, and that wasn’t distressful or dangerous at all.” Well, the ideas of trauma and crisis can only be the interpretation of the person experiencing the situation or conversation. If that person thinks the experience was dangerous or distressful, then it was… to them. It is important to understand that when we assess if a person may have experienced trauma, it certainly isn’t about us and our experience, and it is all about their experience and how they can or do manage such things.

In addition, we may think that by experiencing things, often, we get used to them and can handle them better as time goes on. Well, there are actually two different things that are exactly the opposite: Brain Injuries and Trauma. the more times a person has either a brain injury or experiences traumatic events, the faster they react to them, the stronger the reactions are to them, and the less of a hit or event it takes to experience higher degree of damage or traumatic experience. You may have heard that someone exploded, emotionally, over something so little that everyone was shocked at the reaction, but we may not know how many traumas that person had endured prior to that tiny, little, “last straw” event that may have caused the most damage due to the accumulation of stress or injury prior to the event. It is the hardest part of trauma.

For people who live with PTSD, this becomes very serious. It can cause feelings of never-ending experiential trauma, even if there is no “in the moment” trauma occurring. Nightmares, flashbacks, and avoidance of situations and people can be the result of PTSD that is not treated and blows up into something really big. PTSD is a common cause of work-related absences, depression, and extremely high anxiety which just don’t go away. it is very costly to both families and to employers, to the tune of billions of dollars per year. Yes, I said billions.

Treatment works. There are many types of treatment that can be helpful, but we need to help the person overcome fear of getting help. Asking for help can be really hard, scary, and quite frankly a catalyst to the idea of job loss, if the person asks for help. Employers: Listen clearly – You have the opportunity to help employees by making it clear that they can ask for help and get treatment instead of losing their jobs. treatment is highly effective, but it has to take a step to get there. Why not help your employees get there, so you can retain the best employees and stop the loss of money due to the results of untreated PTSD.

Friends, family, and colleagues… and neighbors: You are important. Stop using stigmatizing language and stop judging people who need care. Find out how they feel and try to encourage them to get professional help. You may be saving a life and not even realize it by a few simple changes in approach.

We suggest that you get Mental Health First Aid certified and take a suicide awareness course, so you can be there for others who may be exhibiting signs and symptoms of a mental health challenge, catch it early in the process, and help them get the help they need. Be aware but don’t be demeaning or patronizing. It has to be the person’s decision to get help. If you let them know it is okay, you are doing your part. let us know how we can help you get certified and learn the signs and symptoms, so you can be prepared. We are here for you so you can be there for those around you.