Keisha Saunders-Waldron, licensed clinical mental health counselor Courtesy photo

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, since military members may see combat, many have been exposed to life-threatening experiences, or have experienced a serious training accident. Events such as these can lead to PTSD.

“At some point in their life, 7 out of every 100 Veterans (or 7%) will have PTSD. In the general population, 6 out of every 100 adults (or 6%) will have PTSD in their lifetime,” per the VA. 

Keisha Saunders-Waldron, owner of Confidential Confessions Counseling is a licensed professional counselor supervisor. She works with individuals and families to improve their quality of life using counseling and holistic approaches. Saunders-Waldron answered questions about PTSD:

Q: Who is typically diagnosed with PTSD?

A: PTSD can affect individuals from all walks of life. However, those at an increased risk include military veterans, survivors of physical or sexual assault, victims of accidents or disasters and individuals who have experienced life-threatening situations. In essence, anyone who has faced a traumatic event is susceptible to developing PTSD.

Q: What are several common post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms?

A: Common symptoms of PTSD include recurring and distressing memories of traumatic events, nightmares, severe emotional distress, heightened anxiety, irritability and avoidance of situations or reminders associated with the trauma. Physical symptoms such as headaches and gastrointestinal distress can also occur.

Q: Why is it important for people such as veterans and others who have experienced traumatic events to seek professional mental health help?

A: Seeking professional mental health help is crucial for individuals, especially veterans, as they often face the invisible wounds of war. Accessing mental health support can be instrumental in their recovery. Effective therapy and treatment can help individuals manage and alleviate symptoms, improve their quality of life and regain a sense of normalcy. 

Q: Is post-traumatic stress disorder more common in men or women?

A: PTSD can affect both men and women. However, research suggests that women may be more likely to develop PTSD after experiencing traumatic events. According to the American Psychiatric Association (2022), approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. adults experience PTSD annually, with women being twice as likely as men to be affected. It is important to consider the potential theories or reasons behind this gender difference to better understand and support those affected and to encourage women to seek appropriate treatment.

Q: Please explain why a veteran who did not serve in the military during wartime may also deal with it?

A: Veterans can develop PTSD because of various traumatic events, such as accidents, or non-combat-related incidents and military sexual trauma. The nature of the trauma itself, rather than the specific wartime context, is the determining factor.

Q: What kind of therapies can be used to help someone who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder?
A: Various therapies can be helpful for individuals diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some common options include talk therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT),such as process negative cognitions and emotion exposure therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) processing trauma through eye moments. Medications may also be prescribed in some cases to manage symptoms. The choice of therapy depends on the individual’s specific needs and preferences, and it’s important to work with a mental health professional to determine the most suitable approach for each person.

Q: Do some people diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder feel ashamed or worry about it carrying a stigma?

A: Unfortunately, some people diagnosed with PTSD may feel ashamed or worry about the stigma associated with the disorder. This stigma can discourage individuals from seeking the help they need. Raising awareness, offering support and emphasizing that seeking help is a sign of strength are crucial steps in combating this stigma.

Q: How can family and friends better support veterans and other people who may live with post-traumatic stress disorder?

A: Family and friends can better support veterans and others living with PTSD by educating themselves about the condition, listening without judgment and encouraging their loved ones to seek professional help. Offering a safe and empathetic environment, participating in therapy sessions, if requested, and understanding potential triggers can also contribute significantly to the well-being of those with PTSD.

In conclusion, PTSD is a complex and debilitating condition that can affect anyone who has experienced trauma. It is imperative to address this issue, especially within minority communities, and provide adequate support, resources and understanding to those living with PTSD.

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