PTSD, an anxiety disorder that may develop after a person experiences a terrifying event, is known to increase the risk of depression, suicide, and drug- and alcohol-related disorders and deaths.
According to the NIMH, the US population lifetime prevalence of PTSD is 6.8% (National Comorbidity Survey Replication). In some regions globally, especially where chronic trauma due to ongoing conflict occurs, it is estimated that up to 30% of the population has PTSD.
The US Congress has declared June 27, 2011 National PTSD Awareness Day. The Resolution includes some terse, unsettling statistics:
- 2.4% of personnel returning from deployment to the Afghanistan or Iraq war are clinically diagnosed with PTSD;
- 17% of Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans exposed to sustained ground combat report symptoms of PTSD;
- PTSD is or has been experienced by 10% of Gulf War veterans and 30% of Vietnam veterans.
The US Veteran’s Administration, through its National Center for PTSD, is taking a lead role in this event, which has been active through the whole month of June . This Center casts its net wide, addressing the condition not only among military personnel but in other settings, such as the Japan tsunami disaster. It also provides a link to the PILOTS (Published International Literature On Traumatic Stress) database, which contains over 43,000 entries “to all literature on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental-health sequelae of traumatic events, without disciplinary, linguistic, or geographical limitations, and to offer both current and retrospective coverage.”
Maggie Brown, MS, ELS, is Senior Production Editor at PLoS.