PTSD Awareness Month

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury. A diagnosis of PTSD requires exposure to an upsetting, traumatic event. However, the exposure could be indirect rather than first hand. For example, PTSD could occur in an individual learning about the violent death of a close family or friend. It can also occur as a result of repeated exposure to horrible details of trauma such as police officers exposed to details of child abuse cases.

While many people will have short term responses to life-threatening events, some will develop longer term symptoms that can lead to a diagnosis of PTSD. PTSD affects about 9 million in the US adult population.


PTSD Symptoms

Symptoms of PTSD fall into the following four categories. Specific symptoms can vary in severity.

  1. Re-experiencing type symptoms/Intrusion: These can include intrusive thoughts such as repeated, involuntary memories; distressing dreams; or flashbacks of the traumatic event. Flashbacks may be so vivid that people feel they are re-living the traumatic experience or seeing it before their eyes.
  2. Avoidance: Avoiding reminders of the traumatic event may include avoiding people, places, activities, objects and situations that may trigger distressing memories. People may try to avoid remembering or thinking about the traumatic event. They may resist talking about what happened or how they feel about it.
  3. Cognitive and mood symptoms: These include inability recalling the event or remembering important aspects of the traumatic event, negative thoughts and feelings leading to ongoing and distorted beliefs about oneself or others (e.g., “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted."). Additionally distorted thoughts about the cause or consequences of the event lead to wrongly blaming self or others; ongoing fear, horror, anger, guilt or shame; much less interest in activities previously enjoyed; feeling detached or estranged from others; or being unable to experience positive emotions (a void of happiness or satisfaction). Cognitive symptoms can in some instances extend to include out-of-body experiences or feeling that the world is "not real" (derealization).
  4.  Arousal and reactivity (hypervigilance) symptoms: Arousal and reactive symptoms may include being irritable and having angry outbursts; behaving recklessly or in a self-destructive way; being overly watchful of one's surroundings in a suspecting way; being easily startled; or having problems concentrating or sleeping.

Children and teens can have extreme reactions to trauma, but some of their symptoms may not be the same as adults. Symptoms sometimes seen in very young children (less than 6 years old), these symptoms can include:

  • Wetting the bed after having learned to use the toilet
  • Forgetting how to or being unable to talk (selective mutism)
  • Acting out the scary event during playtime
  • Being unusually clingy with a parent or other adult

Older children and teens are more likely to show symptoms similar to those seen in adults. They may also develop disruptive, disrespectful, or destructive behaviors. Older children and teens may feel guilty for not preventing injury or deaths. They may also have thoughts of revenge.

Facts About How Common PTSD Is

The following statistics are based on the U.S. population:

  • About 6 out of every 100 people (or 6% of the population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives.
  • About 12 million adults in the U.S. have PTSD during a given year. This is only a small portion of those who have gone through a trauma.
  • About 8 of every 100 women (or 8%) develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with about 4 of every 100 men (or 4%).

PTSD can happen to anyone. It is not a sign of weakness. A number of factors can increase the chance that someone will develop PTSD, many of which are not under that person's control. For example, if you were directly exposed to the trauma or injured, you are more likely to develop PTSD.

Some factors that increase risk for PTSD include:

  • Direct exposure to a dangerous, traumatic event(s)
  • Getting physically hurt
  • Seeing another person physically hurt or seeing a dead body
  • Childhood trauma
  • Feeling horror, helplessness, or extreme fear
  • Having little or no social support after the event
  • Dealing with extra stress after the event, such as loss of a loved one, pain and injury, or loss of a job or home
  • Having a history of mental illness or substance abuse

Positive ways of coping with PTSD:

  • Learn about trauma and PTSD.
  • Join a PTSD support group.
  • Practice relaxation techniques.
  • Pursue outdoor activities.
  • Confide in a person you trust.
  • Spend time with positive people.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Enjoy the peace of nature.

PTSD treatment and therapy

Treatment for PTSD can relieve symptoms by helping you deal with the trauma you’ve experienced. A doctor or therapist will encourage you to recall and process the emotions you felt during the original event in order to reduce the powerful hold the memory has on your life. During treatment, you’ll also explore your thoughts and feelings about the trauma, work through feelings of guilt and mistrust, learn how to cope with intrusive memories, and address the problems PTSD has caused in your life and relationships.


The types of treatment available for PTSD include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) involves focusing on the relationship among thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and how change in one area can improve functioning in the others. Changing a person's unhelpful thinking can lead to improved emotional regulation and healthier behaviors. Identifying and replacing unhelpful thinking patterns or assumptions to more balanced, effective ones help to re-conceptualize their understanding of traumatic experiences as well as their ability to cope.
  • Prolonged exposure (PE) involves gradually “exposing” yourself to trauma-related memories, feelings, and situations. Facing what has been avoided helps the person learn that the trauma-related memories and cues are not dangerous, therefore do not need to be avoided.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) incorporates elements of cognitive behavioral therapy with eye movements or other forms of rhythmic, left-right stimulation, such as hand taps or sounds. EMDR therapy techniques work by “unfreezing” the brain’s information processing system, which is interrupted in times of extreme stress.
  • Family therapy can help your loved ones understand what you’re going through and help you work through relationship problems together as a family.
  • Medication is sometimes prescribed to people with PTSD to relieve secondary symptoms of depression or anxiety, although they do not treat the causes of PTSD.

Therapies teach people helpful ways to react to the frightening events that trigger their PTSD symptoms. Based on this general goal, different types of therapy may:

  • Teach about trauma and its effects
  • Use relaxation and anger-control skills
  • Provide tips for better sleep, diet, and exercise habits
  • Help people identify and deal with guilt, shame, and other feelings about the event
  • Focus on changing how people react to their PTSD symptoms. For example, therapy helps people face reminders of the trauma

Why you should seek help for PTSD

  • Early treatment is better. Symptoms of PTSD may get worse. Dealing with them now might help stop them from getting worse in the future. Finding out more about what treatments work, where to look for help, and what kind of questions to ask can make it easier to get help and lead to better outcomes.
  • PTSD symptoms can change family life. PTSD symptoms can get in the way of your family life. You may find that you pull away from loved ones, are not able to get along with people, or that you are angry or even violent. Getting help for your PTSD can help improve your family life.
  • PTSD can be related to other health problems. PTSD symptoms can make physical health problems worse. For example, studies have shown a relationship between PTSD and heart trouble. Getting help for your PTSD could also improve your physical health.

The PTSD checklist below can provide a basis for any symptoms that may be present, not that a diagnosis of PTSD is appropriate. Reach out to a mental health professional for further assistance in managing symptoms following a trauma or stressful experience and to determine if criteria for PTSD are met.

PTSD Self Checklist
How to Cope with Trauma Video

Pride Month and How to be an Ally

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month) is celebrated annually in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots, and works to achieve equal justice and equal opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) Americans. Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia, and concerts. LGBT Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world. Memorials are held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that LGBTQ individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.


"Coming out" as a member of the LGBTQI+ community is a psychological process or journey of exploring your sexual orientation and sharing that orientation with others. The decision to come out is always personal. It can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. There may also be negative ramifications associated with coming out. You should prepare yourself for these possibilities in advance. Recognizing and accepting your own sexual orientation are the first two steps necessary for coming out.

  • Sexual orientation is defined on a continuum that ranges from exclusive same-sex attraction to exclusive opposite-sex attraction. In recognizing your own sexual orientation, it is helpful to understand where you fit along this continuum.
  • Finding a well-adjusted and confident role model in the LGBTQ community can be helpful in developing your own self-acceptance.
  • Be aware of the homophobia and societal biases that have been imposed upon you throughout your life. Internalizing these ideas is nearly impossible to avoid, though holding on to them is self-destructive.
  • Note the positive outcomes that can be attained through coming out:
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Greater honesty in your life
  • Stronger personal integrity
  • Genuine self-expression
  • Freedom to stop hiding or denying an important part of your lif
  • Learn about others’ experiences in coming out. Determine those that are relevant to your circumstances and how they might help guide you through your process.

Allies can be some of the most effective and powerful voices of the LGBTQ+ movement. Learning that someone you care about is LGBTQ+ can open up a range of emotions and it may be difficult to know how best to react and support them. The important thing to remember is that if someone comes out to you - whether directly or indirectly - they are telling you that you are someone they value and that they want to be genuine and honest with you. 

Coming out is a very personal experience, and the support needed will look different for each individual. There is no one right way to be a great ally, but here are some ways in which you can become a more supportive friend, loved one, or colleague.


9 Ways to Be an Ally & a Friend

  1. Be a listener.
  2. Be open-minded.
  3. Be willing to talk.
  4. Be inclusive and invite LGBT friends to hang out with your friends and family.
  5. Don't assume that all your friends and co-workers are straight. Someone close to you could be looking for support in their coming-out process. Not making assumptions will give them the space they need.
  6. Anti-LGBT comments and jokes are harmful. Let your friends, family and co-workers know that you find them offensive.
  7. Confront your own prejudices and bias, even if it is uncomfortable to do so.
  8. Defend your LGBT friends against discrimination.
  9. Believe that all people, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, should be treated with dignity and respect.

Stories of Pride
LGBTQ Resources - The Trevor Project

Your present circumstances don't determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.

~Nido Quebin

You are not alone! Friendswood Counseling Center is here for you and your family!

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with mental health issues, we can help!  Call today at 281-819-7004 to schedule an appointment with one of our excellent therapists or select the button below to request an appointment. You will receive compassionate support, the right tools, and encouragement to achieve your desired goals. We would be honored to work with you!

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