PTSD: 3 Myths That Hurt People and Delay Getting Help

U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Sean Stevenson takes a knee while on a security patrol in Sangin, Afghanistan, June 6, 2011. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Nathan McCord.

Not being able to distinguish between fact and fiction, writes Jayne Davis with the Defense Centers of Excellence, can be the difference between living with hope and living with despair for someone diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.

So, Davis set out to bust a few of those harmful myths:

Myth 1: Only Weak People Get PTSD

Being uninformed contributes to numerous misconceptions about the disorder, such as having PTSD means you’re not mentally tough. That plays particularly well in the military culture where standards of toughness are high and implemented with rigor.

Stress reactions to combat situations such as having nightmares and reliving a traumatic event, aren’t necessarily indicators of PTSD, but if they persist beyond a short-term period, it could result in a diagnosis. Some service members may be reluctant to acknowledge these symptoms for fear of being considered weak in character or unreliable, two further myths which keep them from seeking treatment and benefiting from support.

Myth 2: Treatment Doesn’t Work

That treatment doesn’t work is one of the more damaging myths about PTSD. Treatment does work. Decades of research have produced many successful treatment therapies, such as cognitive processing therapy and prolonged exposure, and identified early intervention as key to positive treatment outcomes.

One option to understanding and managing symptoms associated with PTSD is to download PTSD Coach, a mobile app loaded support resources.

Myth 3: Getting Care Will Hurt My Career

Many service members remain under the impression that receiving treatment will diminish or curtail their military career — another unfounded myth writes Davis.

Not seeking help once you become aware of problematic behavioral changes in yourself can be far more damaging should behaviors associated with PTSD like angry outbursts or attention deficits compromise your mission readiness or your unit’s trust in you. Courageous service members share their experiences and recovery stories in Real Warriors Campaign video profiles, further challenging the myth that treatment doesn’t work.

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