National PTSD Awareness Day – June 27, 2020

Sat Jun 27

On June 27, we talk about PTSD, a complex disorder caused by experiencing or witnessing trauma. The trauma necessary to cause PTSD can originate from many events — potentially an accident, combat, a natural disaster, or an assault — but there are other ways PTSD symptoms can arise. A trained professional must diagnose PTSD, based on symptoms like hypervigilance, mood swings, recurring and involuntary flashbacks to the trauma, and avoidance. The National Center for PTSD declared all of June to be PTSD Awareness month — you can help their campaign by educating yourself and others about the illness, and sharing help with those who might need it.

History of National PTSD Awareness Day

PTSD in some form or another has long been documented in humans. The earliest known literature about the disorder is a poem from 50 BC. Hippocrates narrated a traumatic battle experience about a soldier who was haunted by PTSD-like combat flashbacks. PTSD has consistently been mentioned since then, notably during the Hundred Year’s War between England and France, and even in the literature of Shakespeare — including Romeo and Juliet.

A new understanding of PTSD came with the Civil War in the 1800s, as the disorder became widespread in the traumatized country. PTSD was known under a variety of names, including “railway spine.” It was in 1915 that some understanding of PTSD was formally introduced into medical literature, under the name “shell shock.”

World War 1 threw the disease into the spotlight, and rudimentary treatments, like electric shock therapy, were attempted. It wasn’t until the 1950s that more modern treatments, like group therapy, were introduced.

The Vietnam War issued in, yet again, a new understanding of the disorder. This coincided with research done by psychologists on both Holocaust victims and rape victims, which helped prove that many kinds of trauma can lead to PTSD.

Today, it’s considered largely treatable, so we’ve made a lot of progress. The Senate recognized June 27 as National PTSD Awareness Day at the urging of Senator Kent Conrad. Conrad wanted to honor a North Dakota National Guard member who had committed suicide after two tours of duty in Iraq. In 2014, the entire month of June was designated National PTSD Awareness Month by the Senate.

National PTSD Awareness Day timeline

June 27, 2010
National PTSD Awareness Day Designated

After the Senate’s formal acknowledgement, June 27, 2010 became the first National PTSD Awareness Day.

1980
PTSD Appears in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM)

Although PTSD had been acknowledged medically for decades, it wasn’t until 1980 that it was included in the DSM.

1974
“Rape Trauma Disorder” Defined

Psychologist Ann Wolbert Burgess and sociologist Lynda Lytle Holmstrom described “Rape Trauma Symdrome” as a variant of PTSD experienced by women who had experienced sexual assault.

1915
“Shell Shock” is Coined

Many soldiers in World War 1 were thought to be “shell-shocked,” a term introduced to medical literature in 1915 to describe symptoms of PTSD.

50 BC
PTSD First Mentioned

Hippocrates first documented the trauma of battle and flashbacks of combat very reminiscent of modern PTSD.

National PTSD Awareness Day FAQs

Where is National PTSD Awareness Day Celebrated?

The United States.

What color is PTSD awareness? 

PTSD Awareness is represented by the color teal.

 

Is PTSD preventable?

PTSD is an increasingly recognized and potentially preventable condition, although research is abstract.

How to Observe National PTSD Awareness Day

  1. Educate yourself on the symptoms of PTSD

    Learn what the symptoms and causes of PTSD can look like, and understand resources and treatments that can be offered to someone struggling. After you’re familiar with the illness, try going to the National Center for PTSD’s website and take the pledge to raise PTSD awareness.

  2. Donate

    An overwhelming percentage of those with PTSD are affiliated with the military. Combat can be a traumatic experience and cause PTSD, so there are many organizations set up to provide aid to veterans with PTSD. Some include Military with PTSD, Wounded Warrior Project, and Military OneSource.

  3. Spread the word

    According to the National Center for PTSD, one of the main purposes of PTSD Awareness Month is to spread the word on the disease to others. They recommend a variety of outreach ideas, from providing a sample blog post to suggesting asking a governor or local official to declare June as PTSD Awareness Month.

5 Important Facts About PTSD

  1. PTSD is widespread

    While 3.5% of adult Americans struggling with PTSD may seem like a small percentage, that’s actually 8 million people.

  2. It affects women more than men

    10% of women and only 4% of men are likely to develop PTSD, which makes it over twice as likely for women to develop the illness.

  3. PTSD is widespread in veterans

    Of those who served in the Vietnam War, an estimated 30% have had PTSD in their lifetimes. 12% of Gulf War Veterans have PTSD, and between 11-20% of veterans of the Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have PTSD.

  4. Children can get PTSD

    It appears that children can develop PTSD symptoms, albeit differently to adults. Research is very new and there is much more to be known about the subject.

  5. PTSD in literature

    Some of our earliest PTSD knowledge comes from literature, including Shakespeare and Dickens. They wrote about traumatic experiences, and the symptoms they described aligned with what we now call PTSD.

Why National PTSD Awareness Day is Important

  1. It’s a widespread illness

    8 million Americans is no small amount. Especially because military service in this country can often lead to development of PTSD symptoms, it’s important to understand what our fellow citizens go through. With knowledge of the disorder, we can make the lives of these individuals less stressful, and better support them in their recovery.

  2. It helps those with PTSD find and receive treatment

    Awareness not only helps raise funds for organizations that support those with PTSD, it also can share resources. A social media post acknowledging the disease and listing a few supporting organizations, paths for treatment, and ways to manage it daily may make all the difference to someone silently struggling with PTSD.

  3. It helps people heal

    Though sharing resources can be helpful, simply letting those with PTSD know you are there is impactful. A large part of the treatment of PTSD involves social support and opening up to others.

National PTSD Awareness Day dates

YearDateDay
2020June 27Saturday
2021June 27Sunday
2022June 27Monday
2023June 27Tuesday
2024June 27Thursday