By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 20, 2011 – Stemming the incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, requires awareness, education and recognizing its symptoms, a senior military psychiatrist said.
Navy Capt. Paul S. Hammer, director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, spoke during a May 16 media roundtable event held here as part of Mental Health Month.
“[It’s important] to make sure people are aware, educated, and that they look for it in themselves, their friends and fellow service members. They must act on it so something is done,” Hammer said.
Taking action doesn’t necessarily call for a major intervention, he said. “Sometimes reaching out and talking to someone can put that person on the right path to get the help he needs,” he suggested.
Recognizing signs of the stress disorder early can be the key to successfully diagnose and treat affected individuals, he said.
“PTSD can be a really complicated entity,” he said. “People think it’s one thing, but it can manifest itself in a lot of different ways and contexts.”
PTSD is not gender-specific, and tell-tale signs vary from one person to the next, but Hammer said some factors might add up to the stress diagnosis. He said it’s important to recognize such symptoms as combat stress, substance abuse, talks of suicide and depression. Getting help begins with awareness and education at all levels of the military, he said....
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