Counselor encourages East Texans to reach out for PTSD resources

June is National Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month, intended to bring better understanding of the diagnosis and connect people to resources.
Published: Jun. 19, 2023 at 12:24 PM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - June is National Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month, intended to bring better understanding of the diagnosis and connect people to available resources.

Jordan Bridges is a licensed professional counselor and the veterans’ services coordinator at the Burke Clinic in Nacogdoches. He says this month is important.

“First, someone can experience what we call acute stress, which is they have a very intense reaction to what has happened, and if that doesn’t die down, then we start looking at that maybe this is an ongoing thing, so we might diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder,” Bridges said.

According to PTSD, 70% of Americans will experience some sort of traumatic event in their lifetime, and 20% of those people go on to develop PTSD. At any given time, an estimated 8% of Americans have PTSD. An estimated 1 out of 9 women will develop PTSD, which is twice as high as men.

“About 3.6% of adults per year in the United States will experience the diagnosis of PTSD, and for children we don’t have a lot of the data; the data is all over the place with children, “Bridges said.

Bridges said it’s also important to know the symptoms.

“What we look for is people who have avoidant behaviors: people who avoid people, places and things that may remind them of this [past trauma]. These people might also experience nightmares or flashbacks, and their sense of security and safety is really damaged by these things, so they would have difficulty with relationships, “Bridges said.

Bridges said all therapies for PTSD are specific to the person and the circumstances. Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is considered a method of “talk therapy,” is one such approach. This method helps a person process their trauma and teaches them tools and techniques to regulate their experiences.

A newer type of therapy is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). This teaches a person to move their eyes in a specific way, or complete a similar repetitive action while talking, in order to activate the rational and temporal part of their brain. Doing so helps their memory of trauma to be “reprocessed” beyond just the brain’s emotional centers, allowing them to feel that the experience is more fully in the past.

The last option Bridges mentioned is exposure therapy, where a person intentionally re-encounters aspects associated with their past trauma to establish new experiences.

Bridges said it’s necessary to reach out for help if you think you have PTSD.

“Often people can ask for a screening from their primary care. That is often something they can do,” Bridges said. “The National Alliance of Mental Illness, or, is a great resource. And then, obviously, your local mental health authorities or people who offer mental health and therapy services.“

For more information about PTSD and related resources, click here.