SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA)– June 27 is National Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day which recognizes the effects it has on people living with the disorder.
“I think a lot of people have post traumatic stress because most people have some kind of traumatic incident in their life,” said Dr. James Holden, emergency room physician for Northwest Medical Center.
But Dr. Holden said not everyone necessarily has post traumatic stress disorder, which can look different in different people.
“Nightmares, inability to sleep, inability to function at your work properly, problems with relationships, even addiction,” Dr. Holden said.
The American Psychiatric Association states about 3.5% of U.S. adults suffer from PTSD. That diagnosis used to be reserved for combat war veterans, but Dr. Holden said that’s changed over the years, especially for people working high-stress jobs like first responders.
“Sometimes you can’t save their lives,” Dr. Holden said. “Sometimes there’s not a good outcome with that. And that weighs heavily on physicians and nurses in the emergency department. What could we have done differently?”
The stress is something Jessica Davis at the Peace at Home Family Shelter knows all too well.
“Secondhand trauma is something that service workers feel a lot,” Davis said.
Davis works with men and women trying to escape abusive situations.
“With domestic violence, there are a million reasons why someone would stay in that relationship,” Davis said.
She deals with dozens of people experiencing post traumatic stress, which could potentially turn into a disorder. Some days are so hard that she has to use techniques she teaches clients on herself to keep stress at bay.
“I have to practice mindfulness,” Davis said. “So that when I go home and leave work, I’m actually there at my house and my mind’s not still at work.”
Doctor Holden said there’s still a stigma when people talk about mental health. But it’s important to seek help if you need it.
“If you have chest pain, you see a heart doctor,” Holden said. “If you have kidney problems, you see a kidney doctor. If you have diabetes, you see a specialist. Mental health disorders are no different.”
Holden went on to say one of the best ways to deal with stress is to talk about how you’re feeling. On PTSD Awareness Day, you’re encouraged to reach out to someone who may be affected and let them know you care and are there to help.