PTSD Awareness Day: Behavioral health expert shares importance of knowing more about PTSD

Published: Jun. 27, 2023 at 12:20 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Tuesday is PTSD Awareness Day, where we recognize the effects that post-traumatic stress has on the lives of those impacted by it.

So, we sat down with a Behavioral Health expert to learn more about what triggers PTSD and what services are available to help those suffering from it.

“Any sort of event where our safety has been threatened is going to cause some effects on the brain,” says Memorial Health Manager of Behavioral Health Mary Jo Horton.

From a car crash to military service and everything in between.

Horton says, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD can be brought on by any traumatic event and can show itself in ways you may not expect.

“People often think about nightmares and flashbacks. What they don’t think about is depression, anxiety, irritability, you know, really losing temper easily. Acting outside of their character. All of those other symptoms, people forget to connect to the brain’s response to a traumatic event.”

Horton also pointing out these symptoms likely won’t present themselves when you expect them to.

“I want to remind folks that often times you’re not going to see the symptoms of PTSD until they’re safe, and that’s not what people generally think.”

If you notice yourself or a loved one exhibiting these changes following a traumatic event, “the first thing we want to do is prevent ourselves from wanting to isolate.” Horton says. “What we say is, ‘oh my gosh, I’m going through all this stuff. This is terrible. I need to be alone until I figure it out.’ Connection is a very powerful medicine. So, the first thing we want to do is talk to our doctors about it. We want to share with our loved one’s what we’re experiencing.”

Most importantly, Horton reminds us that even though it may feel like you’re in a dark cloud there is light on the other side and you aren’t alone.

“Hope and recovery and wellness happen every day, I have the privilege of seeing people get better. There are a ton of great resources and programs out there. I want to remind people that you would get help for a physical health issue so let’s go ahead and get help for mental health issues.”

Horton also says this time of year can be especially challenging for those suffering from PTSD due to fireworks and we can all do our part in making it an enjoyable holiday weekend for everyone.

“Certainly, I never want to dictate how someone enjoys this wonderful holiday. But let us be mindful we do live in a military and veteran community. Let’s remember the people you are hoping to celebrate may also be the ones who are negatively impacted by the way you are celebrating.”