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Nation Recognizes PTSD Awareness Day

Aired 6/27/14 on KPBS News.

Friday is the nation's official day to focus on post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition that has affected many veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Post-traumatic stress disorder has gotten much attention in recent years because of the high number of military veterans, especially those who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, who suffer from it. But PTSD also affects law enforcement officers, paramedics, firefighters and others who have experienced a traumatic event.

The nation's official day to focus attention on PTSD is Friday. To mark the day, KPBS news anchor Deb Welsh interviewed Dr. Sonja Norman with the San Diego Veteran Affairs Medical Center.

Related: San Diego VA Encourages Vets To Seek Treatment For PTSD

Norman said many people who suffer from PTSD no longer see the world as they once did.

Dr. Sonja Norman: Things that used to feel safe, don’t feel safe. Things you used to feel confident doing, you think you can’t handle. Maybe people feel guilt or anger or remorse. Those things, those feelings can be very overpowering, practically ruling someone’s life. They can have a very hard time feeling pleasure, enjoyment, love because they’re kind of engulfed in this guilt, or fear, or sadness, or anger and anxiety.

Deb Welsh: What percentage of vets that come in to the center are diagnosed with the disorder?

Norman: You know, I don’t know those numbers off the top of my head. But, I do know at the VA we screen just about everyone again who comes in. I think of the younger ones who come in, something like around 20 to 30 percent screen positive, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have it.

Welsh: Once the diagnosis is made, what happens then?

Norman: If the person does agree to treatment, then there are medications that work and there is psychotherapy. In fact, there are a couple of psychotherapies that are considered the first tier treatments for PTSD based on reviews and research.

Norman is with the San Diego Veterans Affair Medical Center, where there will be an information booth set up Friday to recognize and encourage those who are suffering from PTSD. The center is at 3350 La Jolla Village Drive, San Diego.

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