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June is an important month for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) awareness.

The US Senate designated June 27 as National PTSD Awareness Day, and the month of June has been designated PTSD Awareness Month by the National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD). Many people associate PTSD with veterans returning from overseas deployment, but did you know children in abusive homes experience PTSD?  What about survivors of a mass shooting or terror attack? A violent, life-altering car accident can leave someone with PTSD. In fact, any man, women or child of any age can experience PTSD following a traumatic event.

Symptoms of PTSD

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, avoidance, bad dreams, outbursts and feeling tense. If you experience these symptoms, and they have continued for more than a month, it is important to see a mental health care professional. If you are diagnosed with PTSD, there are treatments available which include Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and medication.

Parents and caretakers of children should be aware that children suffering from PTSD often display various symptoms such as bedwetting, being extra clingy, inability to talk, and acting out the traumatic event at play time. If you are aware of a traumatic event in your child’s life, such as a car accident, natural disaster, school shooting, or domestic violence, be on the lookout for these symptoms. If your child displays these symptoms, but you are not aware of a specific event, you may consider visiting a mental health care professional who specializes in child trauma to try to uncover the source of the behavior.

The most important thing to remember about PTSD

The most important thing to remember is that just like any other mental health issue, PTSD is nothing to be ashamed of. The stigma surrounding mental illness is slowly diminishing. If you feel you may be experiencing PTSD, seek help. Veterans have resources available through the VA. Others can visit National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD), National Child Trauma Stress Network (NCTSN), or any other organization focused on PTSD awareness and treatment.

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