Some people experience or witness a traumatic event such as combat, sexual assault, a serious accident or a natural disaster. After any life-threatening event, it is common to feel distressed, be on high alert, have trouble sleeping or want to avoid reminders of the event while also being unable to stop thinking about it.
When these feelings do not get better over time, it may be a sign of PTSD; it can happen to anyone and, “It doesn’t say anything about the person other than that life can be hard and we can all react in different ways,” said Dr. Sonya Norman, guest on this episode.
People can get better
There are effective treatments for PTSD, including psychotherapies (or “talk therapies”) and medications. Unlike in the past, when PTSD was thought of as a chronic condition like diabetes, these treatments have now made recovery from PTSD possible. There may not be a cure, but people can feel better and live fuller lives.
People who think they may have PTSD should speak to a healthcare professional to find out how they can get evaluated or to discuss treatment options. VA’s National Center for PTSD website also includes helpful information about PTSD and treatment so people can learn more.
Although not a substitute for treatment, there are digital resources people can use to help cope with their thoughts and feelings. PTSD Coach Online is a website that can be accessed from any device connected to the internet.
PTSD Coach is a mobile app that can be downloaded onto a smartphone or tablet so people can choose what works best for them. Both the website and the app are free and do not collect private data. They include tools for in-the-moment coping and more information on how to connect to treatment.
For people with PTSD, finding hope may be difficult, but effective treatments are out there and can help people feel better in a matter of months.
“We want to get you living your life without the need for ongoing constant treatment,” Dr. Norman said. “That’s the goal. And we’re able to do that, to help a lot of people that way. So it’s really worth trying.”
If you are a Veteran experiencing a crisis or supporting a loved one who is, call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 for immediate assistance or chat online.