The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that in a given year, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental health condition brought on by a stressful or terrifying event, affects as many as 7.7 million Americans aged 18 and over. Common symptoms may include severe anxiety, nightmares and sleeplessness, and flashbacks, as well as uncontrollable recollections of the event, leading sufferers to feel frightened and stuck in "fight-or-flight" response mode even when they're no longer in danger, and often long after the event occurs. When a person experiences a traumatic event, a clinician can provide a thorough health assessment and determine whether PTSD is the correct diagnosis. Recovery options may include medication, involvement in social support groups, and perhaps most importantly, counseling. In fact, counseling is so essential to treatment that some graduate counseling programs now offer course tracts specifically related to PTSD therapy.
While the condition was first brought to public attention when First World War military veterans were diagnosed with "shell shock," and it's still largely associated with soldiers, PTSD can also be triggered by such diverse events as sexual or bodily assault, torture or kidnapping, mugging, vehicular accidents, or natural disasters such as fires, earthquakes, or floods. Consequently, people of all races, ethnicities, ages, and genders may experience PTSD following a trauma. PTSD and anxiety disorders may then be linked to wider issues of mental health and cultural expectation. It's necessary that students enrolled in graduate counseling programs become sensitive to individual needs and master skills in a variety of therapy techniques, ensuring the right course of treatment for every patient.
Children and teenagers may also experience PTSD. In addition to the triggering traumatic events previously mentioned, children can be vulnerable to PTSD brought on by neglect, and physical, sexual, or psychological abuse. Professionals holding degrees from graduate counseling programs will often work with state and county child protection services to place the child into care and begin treatment. A well-trained counselor will know how to address the appearance of PTSD in children of varying age groups, and understand how PTSD may look different in young girls versus boys. But time is of the essence. The ability for students of graduate counseling programs to counsel children soon after a trauma may prevent the development of further mental health issues, as well as later behavioral or substance abuse problems.
PTSD may carry a greater stigma among armed services members than other groups. When treating veterans, it's important that students of graduate counseling programs deliver the message that PTSD sufferers aren't alone, and that with counseling, it's very possible to have a full recovery. Trained counselors will work with trauma victims – veterans, children, and all those in-between – to help them understand their thoughts and feelings, overcome fear and doubt, and diminish possible suicide ideation so that they can live positive, healthy lives.