The National Center For PTSD has designated June as PTSD Awareness Month, and specifically June 27 as National PTSD Awareness Day. The United States Senate designated this day to bring greater awareness to the issue of post-traumatic stress disorder that affects millions of Americans daily. In honor of PTSD Awareness Month, we at Peer Support Central decided to tackle some common misconceptions about PTSD.

Misconception #1: PTSD only affects veterans.

Truth: PTSD does commonly affect war veterans, but anyone can experience PTSD. PTSD can be caused by any traumatic event, including military combat, physical or sexual assault as a child or an adult, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, and serious accidents. Around 7.8% of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lifetimes. While many people associate PTSD with male war veterans, women actually experience PTSD at twice the rate that men do. An estimated 10.4% of American women will be diagnosed with PTSD, compared to 5% of men.

Misconception #2: Everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD.

Truth: Statistically, most people who experience a traumatic event, ranging from natural disasters to personal attacks, will not develop PTSD. Scientists are unsure why some people develop PTSD and others do not, but statistics show that after an intentional traumatic event like a sexual assault or a terrorist attack, 37% of victims will develop PTSD. Less than 10% of victims of non-intentional traumatic events, such as accidents and natural disasters, will develop PTSD.

Misconception #3: Only weak people get PTSD.

Truth: Again, scientists do not know why some people develop PTSD and others do not, but “weakness” has nothing to do with it. Two veterans could have fought side-by-side in Vietnam, and one could have PTSD and the other may not. Some factors that could contribute to whether or not a person develops PTSD are the severity of the trauma, personality traits, brain chemicals that combat stress, and if the person has a strong social support system or not. None of these are a sign of any sort of personal weakness.

Women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with PTSD, but that seems to be because women are more likely to seek help for mental illness, which means they receive diagnoses more often. At Peer Support Central, we often see men who believe they will be perceived as weak for seeking help because of societal norms and expectations, and are actively working to end that stigma.

Misconception #4: It’s too late to do anything about my trauma experience.

If you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, then it is not too late to seek help. People can experience repercussions from traumatic events for their entire lives, and getting help is the first step in moving forward. Peer Support Central specializes in counseling and guiding all people who are experiencing PTSD, regardless of when the original trauma happened. Sometimes, so much time has passed between when a traumatic event was experienced and when a person starts to have symptoms of PTSD, that the person might not even associate the symptoms with the event, making it less likely for that person to realize they are experiencing PTSD.

Peer Support Central Wants To Help

At Peer Support Central, we take these misconceptions about PTSD and bust them. We know that anyone can experience PTSD, which is why we have peer support training, leadership skills training, and counseling geared towards military service members and veterans, first responders, and corporate leaders. Peer Support is not your average form of therapy. Many people dislike the idea of therapy because typical therapists may not have experienced the same type of trauma that they have, and therefore may be seen as an “outsider” or someone who just doesn’t get it. That’s why our peer support specialists are people who have lived through the same experiences as those they are trying to help. They can relate; they are your peers. If you or a loved one is experiencing PTSD, contact Peer Support Central today to find out about our classes and offerings.