This past week, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution submitted by Sen. Kent Conrad [D-ND] marking today, June 27, as National PTSD Awareness Day. Boy, have we come a long way.
It's been three decades since post-traumatic stress disorder was first listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III). Since then, the study of trauma has taken off, reflected in academic publications such as the Journal of Traumatic Stress.
In February, in fact, JTS devoted an entire issue specifically to combat PTSD as it has affected veterans and military families embroiled in our current wars in the Middle East.
A few stats from the issue's editorial [pdf]:
High-profile events such as the terrorist attacks on 9/11 have contributed to an increased public recognition of trauma as well as greater professional interest. The number of articles on disaster increased substantially from the period in the 5 years before 9/11 to the period 5 years after by 145% in specialty disaster journals and 320% in general medical journals, with the largest increase being 2,340% in the New England Journal of Medicine (Kelen & Sauer, 2008). Other high-profile events -- the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the bombings in London and Madrid, Hurricane Katrina, and the tsunami in Southeast Asia -- have undoubtedly had a similar impact.
KFYR-NBC out of Bismarck, N.D., broadcast news of National PTSD Awareness Day in a segment now online. In extended, a few informative videos including a recent PBS interview with Dr. Jonathan Shay, noted VA psychologist, author and 2007 MacArthur Fellow.
I hope today will help to further chip away at the stigmas associated with seeking help for those battling traumatic injuries of all kinds.