The U.S. Postal Service announced a new stamp, the “Healing PTSD Stamp,” to bring attention to a spectrum of psychological disorders that affect millions of Americans, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
An image of a vibrant, green plant growing through dark, fallen leaves is meant to symbolize a new beginning as healing begins to take root.
“Today, with the issuances of this stamp, the nation renews its commitment to raise funds to help treat soldiers, veterans, first responders, health care providers and other individuals dealing with this condition,” David C. Williams, the vice chairman of the Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service, said at the dedication.
Who Experiences PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorders generally manifest in people who have either survived or witnessed an extremely terrifying event.
These events can include things like the effects of war, combat or forced displacement from one’s home. They may also be the consequence of sexual abuse, domestic violence, a car crash, serious injury or any other experience that leaves lasting trauma on a person’s mental wellbeing.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates that around 8 million adults will suffer from an episode of PTSD in a given year, though the number is likely higher because symptoms of the condition can take time to manifest and be accurately diagnosed.
Not everyone that’s exposed to or experiences trauma will develop the disorder.
What are the Symptoms of PTSD?
Difficulty coping, anxiety, nightmares or the inability to stop thinking about the event typically subside with time.
But for some people, especially those who are or were repeatedly subjected to trauma, their memories and lived experiences can cause great psychological damage in the form of PTSD that lasts for years, if not treated.
The symptoms of PTSD, according to the Mayo Clinic, can include some of the following:
- Intense physical reactions and emotional stress to situations or sounds that remind the person of a traumatic event
- Difficulty, or an inability to stop thinking about the event
- Flashbacks of the trauma that feel as if the event is actually happening again
- Avoiding people, places, or conversations that remind them of trauma
- Depression, anxiety and isolation
- Severe mood swings, irritability and anger
- Difficulty sleeping and concentrating
- Overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame
Another common problem is self-medicating the difficult symptoms with alcohol and drugs to numb the psychological and, in some cases, physical pain. A 2017 study found that nearly 50 percent of adults diagnosed with PTSD also struggled with an alcohol or drug use disorder.
Treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
The presence of both a mental health condition and a substance abuse disorder is known as a dual diagnosis. The symptoms of each condition worsen the other and both issues must be treated individually for a person to make a full recovery.
Treatment for PTSD often combines both medication, like antidepressants, as well therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a skill-based approach to adapting new and healthier patterns of thought and behavior.
In the case of a dual diagnosis, addiction treatment can be effective, along with one-on-one counseling or group therapy as way of dealing with trauma and the underlying drivers of substance abuse.
Though anyone can develop PTSD after a traumatic event, soldiers and veterans are at an increased risk because of the frequency with which they may have experienced trauma.
Sadly, research conducted by the VA found that around 20 veterans a day a take their own life. Many of these unnecessary deaths are the result of untreated or undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder.
Healing PTSD Stamp Goals and Purchase Information
The Healing PTSD stamp, which the USPS is selling for $.65, will not just raise funds for research and treatment, but it will also shine a bright light on an often misunderstood and misdiagnosed mental health condition that is treatable and should never be a death a sentence.
The Healing PTSD stamps can be purchased online or at any post office.