Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress

Ever since “PTSD” became a buzz-word relating to military service members, the misconceptions surrounding post-traumatic stress (PTS) have been swift and constant. Recently, Cohen Veterans Network conducted America’s Mental Health PTSD Pulse Survey, in an effort to pull back the curtain on exactly what is being misconstrued. They surveyed more than 2,000 adults in the United States to construct their data. The results reveal a myriad of misconceptions. 

Trauma Leads to Post-Traumatic Stress
By definition, PTS is a person’s reaction to experiencing a traumatic event, though it does not always occur. It has been estimated that up to 60% of Americans experience at least a single traumatic event in their lifetimes. However, only around 8% of Americans develop PTS. In contrast, the survey found that nearly 60% of the survey participants believed that PTS is a given after experiencing trauma. 

Universal Symptoms
PTS is a shape-shifter. It doesn’t look the same in every person that experiences it. Symptoms of PTS include flashbacks/nightmares and hypervigilance. 78% of those surveyed believe that flashbacks are the most common symptom. 69% believe that nightmares are a given. 60% believe that most who experience PTS will experience hypervigilance. In actuality, these symptoms often do occur, but they can vary in their frequency and severity. They also occur alongside other symptoms that include avoidance, loss of focus, and a disinterest in things a person typically enjoys.

Number of Service Members Affected
PTS is far too common amongst military service members. No one is disputing that. But most believe that it’s much more prevalent than it is. 67% of those surveyed believe that the majority of veterans will experience PTS. In reality only 11-20% of veterans of the current military conflicts (Iraq, Afghanistan, etc) experience PTS in a given year. 

One of the greatest misconceptions of PTS is that it elicits violence. This survey proved it, with more than 25% of those surveyed believing that most people who experience PTS are dangerous. While there can be an increased risk of violence, this is not always true. Most people who experience PTS are not violent. 

Treatable or Not?
23% of those surveyed believe that PTS can’t be treated. While there isn’t a cure for PTS, there are a myriad of treatments available to help mitigate the symptoms. Those treatments can transform, and in many cases, save lives. Our Intrepid Spirit Centers are leading the way in treating PTS in military service members. Treatments offered at our centers include sleep therapy, art and music therapy, and alpha-stim therapy, to name just a few. IFHF’s centers are built by donations from the public. To date, eight Intrepid Spirit Centers have been completed. If you would like to support our mission with a donation, click here.

Posted on June 7 2021 in Blog

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