Five Myths and Facts about PTSD and the military

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Here at RunFreeFromPTSD we’ve shared how people in the military have a higher possibility of suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to their high exposure to traumatic events.

Yet the number of military personnel who seek help and treatment for their PTSD and mental health issues are alarmingly low.

So why aren’t military personnel seeking help?

This Crikey article outlines how one of the main issues   is breaking down the stigma for tough, blokey soldiers so they feel able to discuss combat stress.

Thanks to Real Warriors, a campaign that promotes the processes of building resilience, facilitating recovery and supporting reintegration of returning service members, veterans and their families who suffer from PTSD, we have found a comprehensive list of common misconceptions about PTSD and the military.

Five Myths and Facts about PTSD

  • Myth: I cannot get or maintain my security clearance if I am diagnosed with PTSD.
    Fact: Getting treatment for PTSD is not necessarily a threat to an individual’s security clearance. In fact, mental health counseling can be a positive factor in the clearance process. Army records show that 99.98 percent of cases with psychological concerns obtained/retained their security clearance. Additionally, service members are not required to report some treatments, including those for PTSD, they received due to service in the military when they apply for a security clearance. Factors that could result in clearance refusal include not meeting financial obligations, criminal actions or engaging in activities benefiting a foreign nation.
  • Myth: My military career will end if I am diagnosed with PTSD.
    Fact: Being diagnosed with PTSD in and of itself does not end your military career. There are plenty of examples where service members have sought treatment for various psychological health concerns, including PTSD, and it did not put their careers in jeopardy. In fact, a failure to seek treatment can lead to a more serious psychological condition, and could eventually prevent someone from carrying out some sensitive tasks. Seeking support to address psychological health concerns shows inner strength and is commonly looked on favorably. Check out these video profiles of some service members who have received treatment for psychological health concerns and continue to fulfill their regular duties in uniform, as well as veterans who sought care and continue to serve the military community as civilians.
  • Myth: Service members only experience PTSD symptoms immediately following combat or a traumatic event.
    Fact: Symptoms associated with PTSD usually occur within three months after the traumatic event, but symptoms may not appear until six months, or even years later.  The types of symptoms can be broken down into four categories: hyperarousal (feeling “keyed up”), avoidance (avoiding reminders of the event), intrusion (reliving the event), and feeling numb or detached. Nightmares, one of the most common symptoms, are experienced by 71-96 percent of those with PTSD. Reaching out for care is an important step since symptoms, such as nightmares, may lessen or disappear and then re-appear later in life. Early intervention can provide the right coping tools to deal with these symptoms, and sometimes even prevent development of chronic PTSD. Visit the National Center for PTSD to learn more about the types of symptoms associated with PTSD.
  • Myth: Service members can never fully recover from PTSD.
    Fact: Successful treatment and positive outcome are greatly enhanced by early intervention. With therapy, and in some cases medication, the symptoms of PTSD can be greatly reduced, even eliminated. Treatment can help you feel more in control and teach effective coping mechanisms to deal with stressful situations when they arise. There are many types of treatment; your medical provider can help you determine which one is best. You can also contact the DCoE Outreach Center 24/7 at 866-966-1020 where highly trained professionals can answer questions and connect you with local resources for support.
  • Myth: PTSD is a sign of weakness in character.
    Fact:  PTSD is a common human reaction to very traumatic situations. PTSD seems to be due to complex chemical changes in the brain when an individual witnesses or experiences a traumatic event. The symptoms of PTSD appear to be frequently experienced in situations where someone perceives they have been exposed to a life-threatening event, although symptoms and reactions vary from person to person. As a service member dealing with PTSD symptoms, seeking help demonstrates strength and will provide benefits to yourself, your family, your unit, and your service. Do not hesitate to seek care – PTSD is treatable and reaching out early often leads to the best outcomes.
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October 10 World Mental Health Day

world-mental-health-day-10th-october

Today (October 10) is World Mental Health Day.

You have a role to play in your own mental health. It’s about taking the time to look after yourself.

You can start by making a Mental Health Promise to yourself, right now. It’s simple – click here.

Help us change the perception and stigma surrounding mental health illnesses like PTSD so that people are able to get treatment!

And remember exercise is a great way to improve your mental health!

8 Tips for dealing with Mental Health Stigma in Today’s Society

Do you struggle with your mental health and have a difficult time in getting your friends and family to be understanding? In some cases your friends and relatives might give you a hard time regarding your mental health struggles. Here eight suggestions on how to deal with mental health stigma from your peers.

1. Talk To A Counsellor: The most important thing that you need to do is to talk to a counsellor about your mental health problems. Seeking professional help will help you to overcome your current issues. In addition, a counsellor will be able to give you additional advice on how to deal with your friends and coworkers.

2. Don’t Argue With Others: It is important that you do not get into arguments with those who are giving you a hard time. Your number one priority is to overcome your mental health issues. It is not your job to convince people that you are right and they are wrong. Your health is more important than what other people may think.

3. Watch Who You Hang Out With: It is important to surround yourself with positive people. Try to keep your distance from those people who are giving you a difficult time. Remember your goal is to remain positive and hopeful. Do not let the negative people in your life bring you down.

4. You Are Not Alone: It can be very frustrating to deal with your mental health issues when your friends and relatives are on your case. Remember, you are not alone. There are millions of people around the world who struggle with their fears, anxieties, depression, and stresses. The key is to find those people who can relate to you through various support groups in your area.

5. Stand Your Ground: It is important to stand your ground when dealing with family members and coworkers who are giving you a hard time. Explain your situation and your feelings to the people in your life, however don’t let them hassle you. Again, your No. 1 priority is to get better and not to please everyone that you hang out with.

6. Join A Support Group: There are many mental health support groups in your area. Many hospitals, churches, and counsellors in your area will be able to provide you with a list of groups. These support groups will be supportive of your situation and give you additional advice regarding your problems. Joining a support group is very important in a person’s recovery and ability to find people who can relate to you.

7. Learn To Take It One Day At A Time: Instead of worrying about how you will get through the rest of the week or coming month, try to focus on today. Each day can provide us with different opportunities to learn new things and that includes learning how to deal with your problems. When the time comes, hopefully you will have learned the skills to deal with your situation.

8. Don’t Give Up: Never give up regardless of your situation. The answers to your problems are out there; however, you must find those answers. You will not get better if you sit on the couch and don’t make an effort to get better. You need to know that you will eventually get better. Do not lose hope even during the worse of times. You problems will not last forever, and things do eventually change for the better.

This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post