IN FOCUS Discussion: PTSD Awareness Day

In Focus

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) –  Sunday is PTSD Awareness Day. The condition has been called shell shock, nostalgia, and soldier’s heart. It’s been written about for centuries, but it wasn’t until the 1980s when the American Psychiatric Association added the condition to its diagnostic manual of mental disorders that PTSD received public awareness.

Experts define PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as a psychiatric disorder that “may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape, threats of death, sexual violence, or serious injury. It not only impacts our military service members, but also first responders and survivors of domestic violence.

People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts, and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares. They may feel sadness, fear or anger, and they may feel detached or estranged from other people. People with PTSD may avoid situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event and they may have strong negative reactions to something as ordinary as a loud noise or an accidental touch.

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, about seven to eight percent of the country’s population will have PTSD at some point in their lives. PTSD can happen to anyone, as an injury or change in psychological functioning as a result of trauma. During this time, awareness efforts aim to educate the public about this subject, reduce the stigmas associated with it, and identify ways to seek help for those who are suffering.

Dr. Harrison Weinstein, clinical psychologist at the George E. Wahlen V.A. Medical Center, joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen for an IN FOCUS discussion. He talked about how far PTSD goes back in military history, what some of the warning signs may be for someone suffering from the condition, and what treatment looks like and how successful it can be.

Tia White is the director of research and operations at Previdence, a company specializing in public safety mental health. She discussed the similar and differences between the PTSD that first responders experience, the unique challenges that dispatchers face, how many people suffer from PTSD and suicidal ideations, and what resources are available to those who are suffering.

Debbie Comstock, board member for the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, talked about how PTSD for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault compares to other patients, the current data in Utah, how symptoms of a survivor’s PTSD can manifest, the challenges they may face in seeking help, and what treatment looks like for survivors.

To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Dr. Weinstein, White, and Comstock, click on the video at the top of the article.

Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.

Learn more about PTSD: VA National Center for PTSD
NOTE: The contacts provided for the PTSD Programs are for information inquiries and are not continuously monitored.

All VA Medical Centers offer PTSD treatment, even if there is no specific PTSD program. Contact your local VA Medical Center and ask for the Mental Health clinic. Many Vet Centers and VA Community Based Outpatient Clinics also offer PTSD treatment.

If you need immediate assistance, call 911
or 1–800–273–TALK/8255, press 1.
Public Safety Crisis Resources
Department Peer Support Teams
Department Employee Assistance Programs
CISM Critical Incident Stress Management 
Copline:  800-267-5463 
Cop2Cop: 866-COP-2COP
Safe Call Now: 206-459-3020
UT Crisis Line: 800-273-8255
 Crisis Text: 741741
 SAFE UT Frontline app
Utah Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-897-LINK
Utah Sexual Violence Crisis Line: 1-888-421-1100

Both are 24 hour lines

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