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April 17, 2006

615.532.6597 (Office)
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How to Deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Nashville, TN – In the aftermath of Katrina, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the all too frequent occurrence of tornadoes, many Tennesseans are finding their lives changed in ways never before experienced. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an emotional and psychological response to trauma. Recurrent memories and nightmares of a specific traumatic incident last for more than just a few days, and physical symptoms such as headache and nausea continue to get worse instead of better. Feelings of sadness, guilt and anxiety may now be a part of everyday life. These are all symptoms of PTSD.

After experiencing trauma, many survivors feel their safe, routine lives are now suddenly dangerous and unpredictable. PTSD is complicated by the fact that it frequently occurs in conjunction with related disorders such as depression, substance abuse, and problems with memory and cognition. The disorder is also associated with impairment of the person's ability to function in social or family life, often leading to occupational instability, marital problems and divorces, family discord, and difficulties in parenting.

“With around eight percent of Tennesseans experiencing PTSD at some point in their lives, it is important for everyone to know they are not alone. Treatments are available,” stated Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner (TDMHSAS) Virginia Trotter Betts. “Tennessee has been rocked by spring tornadoes and severe storms and is home to many returning Middle East war veterans as well as Katrina evacuees and volunteers, thus it is especially important that each of us as individuals and family members are made aware of PTSD symptoms and available services.”

In some instances just talking through the experience, relaxing, eating right, and exercising may help ease PTSD symptoms, but, if the problems continue, professional treatment is recommended. There are several types of therapy available to treat PTSD. Some of the more common forms include cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy, and pharmacotherapy (medication). Informally, family and friends can also play a significant role in a survivor’s recovery by offering critical emotional support during this rough time.

For more information on post-traumatic stress disorder, including educational materials, or for additional mental health information and treatment resources, please contact TDMHSAS’s Office of Public Information and Education at (615) 253-4812 or visit Information about post-traumatic stress disorder is also available at