June is PTSD awareness month, and we thought we'd share a quick PTSD self-screen from the VA to help you if you think you may have some PTSD symptoms.
Remember, the only way to know for sure if you have PTSD is to talk to a mental health care provider, a simple internet test isn't the same thing as talking to somebody who knows what they are doing.
This is only one of many tools designed to increase awareness of PTSD and let people find the assistance they may need.
Take a Self-Screen for PTSD
A screen is a brief set of questions to tell you if it is likely you might have PTSD. Below is the Primary Care PTSD Checklist for DSM-5, or the PC-PTSD-5 screen.
Sometimes things happen to people that are unusually or especially frightening, horrible, or traumatic. For example:
- a serious accident or fire
- a physical or sexual assault or abuse
- an earthquake or flood
- a war
- seeing someone be killed or seriously injured
- having a loved one die through homicide or suicide
Have you ever experienced this kind of event? YES / NO If no, screen total = 0. Please stop here.
If yes, please answer the questions below: In the past month, have you ...
- had nightmares about the event(s) or thought about the event(s) when you did not want to? YES / NO
- tried hard not to think about the event(s) or went out of your way to avoid situations that reminded you of the event(s)? YES / NO
- been constantly on guard, watchful, or easily startled? YES / NO
- felt numb or detached from people, activities, or your surroundings? YES / NO
- felt guilty or unable to stop blaming yourself or others for the event(s) or any problems the event(s) may have caused? YES / NO
If you answer "yes" to any three items (items 1 to 5 above), you should talk to a mental health care provider to learn more about PTSD and PTSD treatment.
Answering "yes" to 3 or more questions on the PC-PTSD-5 does not mean you have PTSD. Only a mental health care provider can tell you for sure. And, if you do not answer "yes" to 3 or more questions, you may still want to talk to a mental health care provider. If you have symptoms that last following a trauma, treatment can help - whether or not you have PTSD.
Seeking Help For PTSD
As always, your mileage may vary. Just because you don't get the proper score means that you do - or don't - have the symptoms of PTSD. Everyone is an individual, and everyone reacts to situations differently. If you feel that you, or a loved one, has any issues similar to PTSD you should:
- talk to your family doctor.
- talk to a mental health professional, such as a therapist.
- contact to your local VA facility or Vet Center
- speak with a close friend or family member who can support you while finding help
- discuss your situation with a clergy member
It's common to think that your PTSD symptoms will just go away over time. But this is unlikely, especially if you've had symptoms for longer than a year.
You can also discuss your situation with local members of veterans organizations like the American Legion, VFW, or DAV, or online at places like Reddit.com which has a community group for veterans, one for PTSD, and one for PTSD Combat veterans. These groups don't take the place of real treatment, but they can be places where you interact with folks who are going through similar situations as yourself or a loved one.
Remember, you can always contact the VA's crisis helpline at 800-273-8255, or via text at 838255. You can also use their 24/7 Confidential Veterans Chat.
You don't have to be teetering on the edge to contact them. Sometimes it just helps to talk to somebody who has been in a similar situation and gotten through it, you can get through it too, sometimes all it takes is talking about it.
And if you do think you have PTSD, don't believe all the horror stories about the bad treatment at the VA and let that keep you from contacting them for help. There are a lot more success stories than bad ones.