News Article Details

5 things to know about PTSD

News Herald - 6/27/2018

June 27--PANAMA CITY -- For some military members and veterans, the effects of their service linger after they come home.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates post-traumatic stress disorder affects between 11 percent and 20 percent of Iraq War and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans, 12 percent of Gulf War veterans and 15 percent of Vietnam War veterans. PTSD also affects active duty personnel, at various rates.

In Bay County, resources are available for those seeking help, including the Panama City-based Emerald Coast Behavioral Hospital, based in Panama City. In recognition of National PTSD Awareness Month in June, Megan Mould, clinical director of the hospital's military resiliency program, spoke about the symptoms of PTSD, how to treat it and why it happens.

1. Symptoms include hypervigilance and avoidance

PTSD isn't exactly how it's portrayed in the movies, Mould said. Sufferers tend to deal with nightmares, flashbacks and intrusive thoughts. Other symptoms include avoiding thinking about the trauma.

People with PTSD also can be more attuned to their surroundings than the average person.

"Somebody could be triggered by loud noises," Mould said.

2. Dealing with the trauma helps

At ECBH, the military resiliency program treats active duty personnel, while a separate program caters to veterans. Treatment methods include having patients write and talk about their experiences.

"They identify their most traumatic event, and we have them write it out," Mould said. "We focus on their thoughts and feelings."

3. There's still a stigma

Like many mental illnesses, some service members don't seek help because they don't think they will be affected or they fear talking about it will ruin their career. However, that stigma is gradually being reduced, Mould said.

Military people should get help "right away" if they're dealing with PTSD, Mould said.

4. Not everyone has it

PTSD happens after a person experiences a traumatic event, but some people in traumatic situations never develop PTSD. And an experience in the military is by no means the only cause; Mould said PTSD can develop after childhood trauma or multiple traumas of any type.

5. There might be other problems

Some PTSD patients visiting ECBH are also struggling with substance abuse, which staff can simultaneously treat, Mould said. The resiliency program is a 30-bed unit where patients, who are assigned an individual therapist they see two or three times a week, are treated an average of 30 days.

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(c)2018 The News Herald (Panama City, Fla.)

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