Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can feel like a loosely defined group of symptoms similar to those of grief, fear, anxiety and insecurity — something that happens to someone else, or perhaps a title a professional has placed on typical reactions to traumatic situations. One of the more significant barriers to recognizing the need for help is lack of understanding about the nature and seriousness of PTSD. It is easier for the general public, as well as military personnel, to understand the need to treat a broken arm or open wound, in part because the damage to the body is external and easy to see.

Wounds to the nervous system due to exposure to trauma, while every bit as serious as external wounds, are far less conspicuous and more complex. Also, military personnel are trained to be physically and mentally tough in order to endure the rigors of combat and not dwell on negative emotional states. As a result, it is counterintuitive for Veterans to focus on the negative symptoms associated with PTSD, no less be willing to seek out treatment. Finally, the warrior culture of young men and women in the military stigmatizes the idea of seeking help for PTSD, trauma, depression or anxiety as a sign of weakness or failure.

So, the first and most important step to moving forward is recognizing and honoring the validity of PTSD, and work toward healing without judgment of yourself.

You are not alone, even it feels that way

The first thing people with PTSD should