Susan Phillips (3)


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental health condition generally triggered by experiencing or seeing a terrifying event, is frequently associated with military service, although it's a condition that can be realize by anyone, and any age to include school children.

June is recognized nationwide as PTSD awareness month.

While PTSD is frequently identified with military veterans who have been engaged in combat, it is often found to have affected others including police officers, emergency workers, hospital and healthcare professionals, and any number of other employment positions, according to Cumberland Mental Health, an agency of Volunteer Behavioral Health, a nonprofit that provides mental health services to 31 counties in Middle and Southeast Tennessee and the Upper Cumberland Region.

Even though we hear PTSD frequently applied to members of the military, past and present, who may have been involved in a traumatic battlefield experience, the mental health condition can just as easily claim an EMT who may be working with an ambulance unit; a convenience store clerk who may have been the victim of an armed robbery; or a seven-year-old who may have witnessed a family member lose their life in an automobile accident.

PTSD knows no bounds, age or otherwise.

Symptoms of PTSD may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event that caused the condition.

Many who go through traumatic events, often experience a temporary period where they have challenges adjusting and coping, but with time they usually get better. 

However, others may suffer from PTSD, if symptoms persist or get worse and last for months or even years and interfere with day-to-day functions, 

PTSD symptoms may start within one month of a traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms may not appear until years after the event. These symptoms cause significant problems in social or work situations and in relationships. They can also interfere with one's ability to go about normal daily tasks.

 PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Symptoms can vary over time or from person to person.

 For children six-years-old and younger, signs and symptoms may also include re-enacting the traumatic event or aspects of the traumatic event through play or having frightening dreams that may include aspects of the traumatic event.

PTSD can be treated. 

When appropriate treatment is applied, those suffering from PTSD can find relief from the symptoms that have been plaguing them. From their experience of being a part of a trauma incident and feeling fragile, shaken and insecure, with treatment these survivors can feel safe and return to useful and productive lives. 

For more information about PTSD contact Volunteer Behavioral Health at 1-877-567-6051 or visit the website at

Susan K. Phillips, LMSW, center director/Cumberland Mental Health.

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