A document produced annually by each of the four Research and Development Services, provides brief lay language summaries of important current impacts from research studies.
What is PTSD?
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a disorder which causes disabling anxiety after a dangerous event, such as being in combat or a traffic accident. Individuals with PTSD cannot stop thinking about the event. They may relive the experience over and over in flashbacks or nightmares. The high level of anxiety of PTSD can lead to associated problems like panic attacks, depression, alcoholism and substance abuse.
PTSD affects 7.7 million adults, but it can affect children and the elderly. Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD. Sometimes someone whose loved one lived through a dangerous event will get PTSD.
How is PTSD diagnosed? Physicians group the symptoms into three categories:
- Re-experiencing symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks, terrifying thoughts.
- Avoidance symptoms such as steering clear of anything that reminds the person of the experience, withdrawing emotionally or feeling strong guilt or anxiety
- Hyperarousal symptoms such as always feeling tense or being easily startled.
A person needs to demonstrate these symptoms for one month or more to be diagnosed with PTSD. If symptoms disappear within a month after a stressful event, it is labeled Acute Stress Disorder, or ASD.
PTSD often exists simultaneously with other physical symptoms of high stress such as digestive disorders, headaches, chest pain and dizziness. Be sure to tell your physician if you have experienced a traumatic event so she can diagnose and treat PTSD properly.
Psychotherapy and medication are two of the main treatments for PTSD. Antidepressants keep the symptoms in check, but do not treat the cause of PTSD. Talk therapy enables the PTSD sufferer to work through the event. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is deemed the most effective talk therapy for PTSD. A therapist may help the individual reframe the incident or may walk him through a process of systematic desensitization to lessen the impact of the event. Treatments last 3-6 months, or could take 1-2 years.
Relaxation techniques such as meditation reduce the stress experienced in PTSD and thus, provide relief to PTSD sufferers. A study of Vietnam War veterans suffering from PTSD demonstrated that after three months of doing the Transcendental Meditation technique, symptoms such as alcohol usage, high startle response, emotional numbness and anxiety decreased as compared to a control group who received only psychotherapy. Research indicates that meditation has a positive effect on problems that often arise in PTSD sufferers, such as hypertension (pdf), depression, and substance abuse.
Recovery from PTSD usually takes some time, but adding relaxation techniques such as meditation, may speed up the process.
- Risk Factors for PTSD
- How to Prevent PTSD
- Causes of PTSD
- Symptoms of PTSD
- Treatment of PTSD
- Meditation and PTSD
The National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (Federal VA):
- The PTSD Information Center contains in-depth information on PTSD and traumatic stress for a general audience. We answer commonly asked questions about the effects of trauma, including basic information about PTSD and other common reactions. You can find out about treatment and coping or view videos to learn more.
- For Survivors of Trauma
- Information for Victims of Crime
- Military Veterans PTSD Manual
Need help with PTSD?
To file a claim for PTSD contact a Veteran Service Officer.
ND Department of Veterans Affairs announces grant available for ND Veterans with PTSD
North Dakota Veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may now apply for a grant which may provide them with a specially trained Service Dog. These service dogs are trained right here in North Dakota to assist Veterans who suffer from PTSD. The dogs provide the special needs of the veteran they are to serve whether it is calming anxiety attacks, providing comfort and assurance in public settings or waking a veteran from a nightmare. PTSD service dogs have proven to greatly assist Veterans in returning to a more normal life and reintegrating back into their community. Service Dogs for America has several of these highly trained service dogs ready to be placed with a veteran in need.
To meet the minimum qualifications for a PTSD service dog the Veteran must be a North Dakota resident, have a diagnosis of PTSD, be engaged in counseling or therapy and have a doctor’s recommendation for a PTSD Service Dog. All qualified Veterans are urged to apply. The grant is made possible by the 63rd ND Legislative Assembly and private donors.
VA’s mobile applications (apps) provide self-help, education and support. We also have treatment companion apps, for use with a health care provider, to make treatment easier. There are apps for iOS and Android devices.
PTSD is a serious mental health condition that often needs professional evaluation and treatment. These apps are not intended to replace needed professional care.
- PTSD Coach - This mobile app is to help you learn about and cope with the symptoms related to PTSD that commonly occur following trauma.
Treatment Companion Apps
- PE Coach - A mobile app to be used during Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy with a mental health professional. PE Coach is not a self-help tool.
VA is committed to addressing the issue of suicide among our Veterans and offers a network of support available to those who have served our country. VA provides a confidential 24/7 Veterans Crisis Line for Veterans in crisis and their families. Trained VA professionals are available at all times to assist Veterans and their family members. Veterans and their families do not have to be enrolled in VA to use the free, confidential Veterans Crisis Line.
1-877-WAR-VETS (1-877-927-8387) is an around the clock confidential call center where combat Veterans and their families can call to talk about their military experience or any other issue they are facing in their readjustment to civilian life. The staff is comprised of combat Veterans from several eras as well as families members of combat Veterans. This benefit is prepaid through the Veteran’s military service.
Veterans Chat Link: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
The Suicide Prevention campaign of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has expanded it’s outreach to all Veterans by piloting an online, one-to-one “chat service” for Veterans who prefer reaching out for assistance using the Internet.
Called “Veterans Chat,” the new service enables Veterans, their families and friends to go online where they can anonymously chat with a trained VA counselor. If a “chatter” is determined to be in a crisis, the counselor can take immediate steps to transfer the person to the VA Suicide Prevention Hotline, where further counseling and referral services are provided and crisis intervention steps can be taken.
“This online feature is intended to reach out to all Veterans who may or may not be enrolled in the VA health care system and provide them with online access to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline,” said Dr. Gerald Cross, VA’s Acting Under Secretary for Health. “It is meant to provide Veterans with an anonymous way to access VA’s suicide prevention services.”
Veterans, family members or friends can access Veterans Chat through the suicide prevention Web site (www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org). There is a Veterans tab on the left-hand side of the website that will take them directly to Veteran resource information. On this page, they can see the Hotline number (1-800-273-TALK), and click on the Veterans Chat tab on the right side of the Web page to enter.
Veterans retain anonymity by entering whatever names they choose once they enter the one-on-one chat. They are then joined by a counselor who is trained to provide information and respond to the requests and concerns of the caller.
Vet Centers provide readjustment counseling and outreach services to all veterans who served in any combat zone. Services are also available for their family members for military related issues. Veterans have earned these benefits through their service and all are provided at no cost to the veteran or family.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Vet Center program operates a system of 232 community based counseling centers. The Vet Centers are staffed by small multi-disciplinary teams of dedicated providers, many of which are combat veterans themselves. Vet Center staff are available toll free during normal business hours at 1-800-905-4675 (Eastern) and 1-866-496-8838 (Pacific).
Normal working hours are 8:00am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday. In an effort to better serve the veteran and family members, upon request Vet Centers will provide services after normal work hours and/or on weekends.
Link to vet center: www.vetcenter.va.gov
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