Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) Basics

Post-traumatic stress (PTS) has been called one of the “signature wounds of war” in today’s combat landscape. Dubbed post-traumatic stress disorder in 1980 by the American Psychiatric Association, cases of what we now call PTS have been traced back as far as the Civil War. Through the years, PTS has also been referred to as “shell shock”, “battle fatigue”, and “gross stress reaction.”

Defining “Traumatic Stress”
Literally translated, “post-traumatic stress” means an after-effect of traumatic stress. “Traumatic Stress” is defined by the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress as “the emotional, cognitive, behavioral, physiological experience of individuals who are exposed to, or who witness, events that overwhelm their coping and problem-solving abilities.” Furthermore, the phrase “post-traumatic stress” can be defined as “a psychological reaction that occurs after an extremely stressful event.”

What Is A Stressful Event?
As we discussed in a previous blog, Myths of Post-Traumatic Stress, PTS is not a given after a traumatic event. Two people may experience an event, but only one may suffer from PTS afterwards. What constitutes a stressful or traumatic event? First and foremost, experiencing life in a war zone, both as a member of the military or as a civilian, can significantly increase factors that may lead to PTS. In addition, survivors of violences such as abuse, random acts of violence, sexual or physical assaults, can experience PTS. Survivors of unexpected events including car accidents, fires, natural disasters, and catastrophic events are all susceptible to PTS as well.

Post-Traumatic Stress Can Affect Anyone
PTS is commonly affiliated with our Military Servicemen and women. Since PTS affects 11-20% of service members who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF), this is understandable. However, we cannot ignore the 7-8% of the general population who will experience PTS at some point in their lives. Anyone is susceptible to a traumatic event and may develop PTS as a result.

In any given year, PTS affects about 8 million adults. Around 23-32% of those affected each year are United States service members who served in OIF, OEF, or the Gulf War. Because of these staggering figures, there is a critical need for treatment of our heroes who are affected by this condition. That’s where the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund steps in. We’re building Intrepid Spirit Centers at military bases across the country to address this need. These centers are specially equipped to treat the invisible wounds of war which include PTS and Traumatic Brain Injury. To date, 8 centers are open and operational with 2 more planned. More than 90% of patients treated at Intrepid Spirit Centers are able to continue on Active Duty and enjoy a productive life. Learn more about IFHF or donate today to help heal our heroes!

Posted on July 30 2018 in Blog

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