“Hope for Recovery: Understanding PTSD” Offered by PTSD Alliance

NEW YORK, November 21, 2000 – A new booklet to help people understand Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is now available from the PTSD Alliance, a group of professional and advocacy organizations that have joined forces to increase awareness and promote a better understanding of PTSD, a common, serious and treatable health condition.

In clear and sympathetic language, “Hope for Recovery: Understanding PTSD” seeks to dispel the myths about PTSD that keep many people from recognizing the problem and obtaining help. The booklet includes a discussion of risk factors for PTSD and its symptoms and provides information on treatment options and the important things that family and friends of someone with PTSD can do to provide support and help in the recovery process.

“A person may develop PTSD in response to extreme trauma, a life-threatening situation. PTSD is a complex disorder that can affect every aspect of a person’s life – at home, at work, with their relationships with family and friends,” says Jerilyn Ross, MA, LICSW, President of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America. “Often, someone suffering from PTSD realizes that something is very wrong, but they don’t know what to do or where to go for help.”

“The PTSD Alliance developed this booklet to help people at risk and their family and friends to better understand PTSD and how it’s related to a traumatic experience and to provide direction on where to go for more information on treatment and support,” says Ms. Ross.

PTSD: a common response to extreme trauma
PTSD results from exposure to a traumatic or extremely psychologically distressing experience – a terrifying event or ordeal that a person has experienced, witnessed or learned about, especially one that is life-threatening or causes physical harm. This experience causes the person to feel intense fear, sorrow or a sense of helplessness.

An estimated 70 percent of American adults have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their lives, and up to 20 percent of these people go on to develop PTSD. Women are about twice as likely as men to develop PTSD. PTSD often affects victims of personal violence such as physical or sexual assault, including childhood abuse or domestic violence. Others at risk include survivors of serious accidents, natural disasters or other major catastrophic events, such as plane crashes or terrorist attacks or combat victims.

“Within our society, people commonly feel that no matter what has happened in the past – no matter how terrible or distressing – you should be able to get past it at some point and get on with your life,” says Esther Giller, President, the Sidran Traumatic Stress Foundation. “But that is a myth. Extreme trauma can wreak havoc with your sense of connection to others and control over your life, sometimes with devastating consequences.

“The good news is with proper diagnosis, treatment and support, people with PTSD can and do regain their lives. There is hope for recovery. PTSD is treatable,” says Ms. Giller.

The new booklet Hope for Recovery describes in detail the symptoms of PTSD, which can include dreams and flashbacks re-living the event; detachment from close personal relationships with family or friends or feelings of emotional numbness; and feelings of hyper-arousal (e.g., difficulty sleeping, becoming easily agitated or irritable, or having a hard time concentrating).

Once diagnosed, PTSD is treatable with psychotherapy, medication or a combination of both. Research suggests that treatment may help patients recover even if initiated years after the trauma and the onset of symptoms. However, fewer than 30 percent of patients who have PTSD seek treatment for their condition.

PTSD Alliance resources
Launched on March 7, 2000, the PTSD Alliance includes four national organizations representing a spectrum of healthcare issues related to PTSD, including trauma-related stress, anxiety disorders and women’s healthcare. Founding members are the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA), International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) and the Sidran Traumatic Stress Foundation. The PTSD Alliance is supported by an educational grant from Pfizer Inc.