CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Mental health advocates are talking about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during the month of June.
PTSD can occur after someone experiences a traumatic event that is beyond a typical stressor. This could include mass shootings, natural disasters, traumatic deaths and assaults.
“It’s okay not to be okay,” said Meg Wallace, the Clinic Coordinator for the Medical University of South Carolina’s (MUSC) National Crime Victims Center.
The symptoms of PTSD can range from sleeping disturbances and anxiety about a place where a traumatic event happened to avoid places of a traumatic event. Wallace says that patients who come to MUSC for evidence-based treatment can progress to not having a diagnosis of PTSD with several sessions.
“There is some level of recovery. The importance of finding strong evidence grounded treatment is key as well as family support,” said Wallace.
MUSC provides cognitive processing treatment and prolonged exposure for adults. Children can get help with trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral theory.
“All of these are grounded in the idea of focusing not only on the behavioral aspects of what we see after trauma, but focusing on the thoughts and feelings that emerge from that,” said Wallace.
There are other programs that people can go to if they are not ready for treatment. Support groups are an easier way to access services for PTSD in the Lowcountry.
“When people experience traumatic events it shakes their foundation and their core beliefs so it’s really normal to not trust things and to feel like you can’t connect to people,” said Wallace.
Veterans are also prone to PTSD because experiences from military service can lead to mental health problems. Save22, an organization that fights veteran suicide, says that at least 22 veterans take their own lives every day.
“I was recently diagnosed with multiple traumatic brain injuries,” said Albert Woodin, the President of Save22.
Woodin says that some veterans struggle to transition from combat to civilian life because of a lack of resources for those who retire or are discharged. He says that is a key reason why some do not get mental health help.
“(The military), for lack of a better word, dump you back into society and expect you to follow up and do things to get better,” said Woodin. “A lot of people won’t do that. It’s a pride thing.”
For families of veterans, Woodin advises to not force their veteran in any direction and to let them take their own path to get help. He says that the best thing for veterans like himself is to have former unit members talk together at events.
“The biggest step is owning what you have going on. I myself did it for over 20 years. It’s just one of the things that we do. We don’t ask for help. It’s a sign of weakness some people think that. It’s not,” said Woodin. “One of the strongest things you can do is step forward and say ‘Hey I need help.'”