Celebrate PTSD Awareness Day with Maple

Celebrate PTSD Awareness Day with Maple

Join the PTSD community on Monday June 27th to celebrate PTSD Awareness Day!

Trauma can have a devastating effect on people’s lives and the symptoms of PTSD often go unnoticed or undiagnosed. By dedicating the month of June to PTSD awareness, we can highlight the impacts of trauma; and if more people know about PTSD, then more people with the condition can get the help they need.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can occur after someone experiences a traumatic, dangerous, scary, or life-changing event. When someone lives through an event like this, it is natural for your body and mind to react. Fear and the subsequent emotional responses can trigger changes in the body that help to defend against or to avoid danger, and can even result in a debilitating condition.

Did you know that over 1 million Australians at any given time may have PTSD? Post-traumatic stress disorder is a set of reactions that can occur after someone has been through a traumatic event. It can be a life-altering condition that limits a person’s ability to participate in certain activities and can be triggered by unforeseen events. It can be unpredictable and challenging for those living with it, as well as their loved ones. People with PTSD deserve to be celebrated, recognised, and advocated for. 

How will you be celebrating PTSD Awareness Day?

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that is triggered by a traumatic event. This could include whether someone experienced it, witnessed it, and even those who picked up the pieces after the event, such as emergency workers or law enforcement officers. It may also occur in family members or friends of those who actually went through the trauma. 

Types of traumatic events that can cause PTSD include:

  • War and military experiences
  • Sexual or physical assault
  • The sudden death or a serious injury of a loved one
  • Serious accidents such as a car crash
  • Natural disasters such as fire, typhoons, floods or earthquakes
  • Terrorist attacks

The psychological impacts of trauma can be deep and complex and can affect us both physically and emotionally. Symptoms of PTSD may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety. It may affect the way we see ourselves, others, and the world around us.

Why is PTSD Awareness Day Celebrated?

The 27th of June is a significant date to celebrate PTSD Awareness Day as it falls on the birthday of Sergeant Joe Beil who committed suicide in 2007. The North Dakota National Guard member suffered from PTSD after two tours in Iraq, so the day is now celebrated as a tribute to him and the many others who have been subjected to this serious condition. 

Unfortunately, many people who live with PTSD don’t receive the treatment they need because they don’t recognise their symptoms for what they are; they may not know that treatments can help them and thus do not seek help. Others fear a diagnosis of PTSD due to stigma around mental health conditions. 

PTSD Triggers

A trigger could consist of anything that reminds your loved one of the trauma and sets off a PTSD symptom. Common external triggers of PTSD can include, but are not limited to:

  • Significant dates or times, such as anniversaries or even a specific time of day
  • Certain people, locations or even objects associated with the trauma
  • Sights, sounds, or smells that remind them of the traumatic experience
  • Media coverage of trauma or negative news events or conversations on these topics.
  • Confined spaces or circumstances such as being stuck in traffic or in a crowded place.
  • Certain types of weather, seasons, places in nature.
  • Hospitalisation, medical treatment or funerals.
  • Issues in relationships, at work or financial strain.

Common internal triggers can include, but are not limited to:

  • Sensations that recall the trauma such as old wounds, scars, pain, or other injuries.
  • Strong emotions such as being trapped, feelings of helplessness, or being out of control.
  • Physical discomfort such as hunger, thirst, fatigue, sickness, or sexual frustration.
  • Mixed feelings towards loved ones such as love, vulnerability, and resentment.

The psychological impacts of trauma can be deep and complex and can affect us both physically and emotionally, as well as the way we see ourselves, others, and the world around us. It’s important to know what the symptoms are so you can recognise it in yourself or a loved one and get the treatment needed.

There are four main symptoms of PTSD:

Re-living the traumatic event – you or your loved one may be troubled by distressing and unwanted memories of the event, you may experience vivid nightmares, or flashbacks.

Avoiding reminders of the traumatic event – you may find yourself wanting to avoid certain places, people, thoughts, and activities that bring back memories of the event.

Experiencing negative thoughts and feelings – feelings of guilt, fear, anger, or numbness among others are common with PTSD.

Hypervigilance and mood swings – You may experience trouble sleeping or concentrating; experiencing feelings of anger or irritability; you may find yourself easily startled; you may end up taking more risks; or constantly be on the lookout for danger.

PTSD is not a sign of weakness in any way. It is a conditioned response to a traumatic event. If you or someone you love experiences a traumatic event, it’s important to remember that you will likely need help and support moving forward. By celebrating PTSD Awareness Day on June 27th and for the whole month of June, we can spread awareness about the symptoms and effects of the condition so it can be recognised more easily, as well as normalise seeking help.

Effective treatments for PTSD:

Most effective treatments for PTSD fall under the umbrella of cognitive behavioural therapy or CBT. CBT can help you to adjust the thought patterns that are disturbing you using specific techniques. Some of these techniques include talking through your trauma and concentrating on where your fears originate from.

Cognitive Processing Therapy – a 12-week course to examine how you think about your trauma and determine techniques to deal with it.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy – 8-15 sessions to confront the trauma and learn breathing techniques to ease anxiety.

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing – 3 months of weekly sessions to transition your thought process positively while thinking about the trauma.

Stress Inoculation Training – 3 months of sessions to focus on changing how you deal with stress from the trauma.

Medications – these can help you to stop thinking about and reacting to what happened and encourage a more positive outlook. Consult your therapist or GP for medication options that might work for you.

How to Celebrate PTSD Awareness Day

Dedicating a day to a serious condition such as PTSD on an annual basis gives us the opportunity to shine a light on it and advocate for better understanding from the community and world as a whole.

There are many things you can do to celebrate and take part in PTSD Awareness Day:

Talk about it

Talking about PTSD plays a huge part in increasing awareness and promoting earlier diagnoses. Bring up the subject with family, friends, or co-workers and share facts that you have learned in your journey. You could also include it in your email signature or share information on your social media.

Share your story

Sharing our stories is one of the best ways to reduce stigma and create a better world through understanding. Although it means being vulnerable, it can also generate support. You don’t have to do it on June 27th or even during the month of June, but you may find it is a good opportunity to share. If public speaking isn’t for you, you could reach out to a local publication or a reputable blog where you can share your story, or even share your experience through social media.

Join events or fundraisers

Celebrate and advocate by joining events or fundraisers. Look for events near you to join or volunteer with or create one yourself. This could be a simple get together for like-minded people willing to learn and share stories, or more elaborate events aimed at raising money for the cause. Reach out to local health associations, war veterans, or PTSD organisations to find out if they have any events happening. 

Support groups

Support groups can be a great way to connect with others and generate a support network of people who understand what you’re going through. Everyone’s experience will be unique, but it’s important to receive assurance that you are not alone. There is a lot of power in sharing your story and hearing others’ perspectives.

Wear Teal

The colour teal represents PTSD and helps us spread awareness for the illness. Don a teal ribbon or t-shirt to show your support for the cause and initiate conversations.

However you choose to advocate for PTSD Awareness Day on 27th June, make sure you are safe, have fun, and wear teal!