By Gwendolyn Downing, LPC
Individuals of any age who have experienced a trauma may be impacted, and infants through adults, may develop a range of reactions, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). June is PTSD awareness month, which prompts us to tend to the continuum of prevention to treatment, for ourselves and communities.
Trauma can come from multiple sources, such as: child emotional, physical, sexual abuse, neglect, or/and abandonment; witnessing violence; oppression and discrimination; poverty; interpersonal violence; sexual assault; accidents; natural disasters; medical procedures; war. Some are unavoidable, most are preventable.
Knowing prevention always is best, we can take steps to:
• End and prevent the sources of trauma we can.
• For unavoidable sources, build protective factors to mitigate the impacts we can.
Simultaneously, we know that trauma has already occurred, and is occurring as you read this. So, we need to be informed about how it can affect and be able to respond as needed. There are multiple available sources to equip individuals and communities with this information.
And given the prevalence of trauma, and the reality of its effects, both preceding points are essential to our wellbeing.
Focusing on PTSD
PTSD is part of the possible mental health impacts someone might experience due to trauma. PTSD symptoms may start soon after the trauma, months or years later, and come and go over the years.
PTSD is diagnosed by a mental health professional. There are common sets of symptoms for the diagnosis, but individual experiences may be different.
Treatment for PTSD might include therapy, medication, support groups, or/and other assists. For some people, treatment enables them to no longer experience PTSD symptoms. For others, it enables them to reduce the intensity of symptoms, and gives tools to manage symptoms.
Per the National Center for PTSD, there are currently about 8 million people in the United States with PTSD. Each of those individuals, children, and adults, need to know there is hope, and receive the support and services they need, for themselves and our community.
For more information:
• The National Center for PTSD offers resources for individuals and providers. https://ptsd.va.gov/.
• The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) offers resources to help children, youth, families, mental health providers, child welfare and juvenile justice professional, school staff, and healthcare providers: www.nctsn.org.
Some providers for Garfield County:
• Northwest Center for Behavioral Health: (580) 234-3791 http://www.ncbhok.org/.
• Great Salt Plains Health Center: (580) 233-2900 https://www.gsphealth.org/.
For our individual and community wellness, let us all do all we can to prevent, mitigate, and appropriately respond to trauma.
And as part of that, if at any time, you or someone you know is struggling in any way, for any reason, reach out. Talk to a doctor or mental health provider, call/text a crisis line, talk to a trusted friend or support, ask about resources you might need (e.g., food, clothing), find a mentor, so on. Taking steps like those may both meet the current need and prevent or mitigate future needs.