BY HELAINA HOVITZ
The importance of awareness
I lived with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for years before finding the correct course of treatment or diagnosis, and some people go decades longer without ever knowing “what’s wrong with them” or “how to fix it.” Awareness around the immediate signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)—along with the acknowledgment that it isn’t only an affliction that war veterans struggle with—has become slightly more prevalent today: nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks, intrusive thoughts, reliving the event over and over again, fearing for your safety. Examples of include being directly impacted by acts of war, terrorism, or being the victim of a crime, a natural disaster or accident, witnessing or being a direct victim of sexual or domestic abuse, medical trauma, the loss of a loved one, even growing up in a dangerous or impoverished neighborhood or a dangerous or unstable home or family environment. Sometimes, symptoms take months or years to surface, and, when they do, they can sometimes be hard to detect, seemingly unrelated to anything you went through. For National Stress Awareness Month, I spoke with experts who help connect the dots between some of the pervasive and painful—along with some blink-or-you’ll-miss-it—reactions you may be having to everyday stressors and triggers.