PTSD – There is Help
Prince George, B.C. – The tragedy in Nova Scotia this week which saw four people die in what is believed to be a murder suicide, has once again turned the spotlight on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The bodies of a 33 year old man, his wife, daughter and mother, were discovered in their Nova Scotia home . The deceased male had served in the Canadian Military in Afghanistan. While the investigation continues into this tragedy, there are suspicions PTSD played a part.
Prince George Royal Canadian Legion Branch 43’s Joe Elliott is feeling the loss “The Royal Canadian Legion and the veteran community here in Canada would like to express their sorrow, their thoughts and prayers to the family and friends affected by this horrible tragedy.”
Elliott, who as an Executive with Branch #43 is focused on Occupational Stress Injury, says there are still barriers for those with PTSD to access treatment “The main one is admitting you’ve got PTSD and recognizing the signs”. He says family and friends can also suffer from PTSD and says many males have a more difficult time admitting they have a problem, or seeking treatment. “They don’t think they have a problem, or if they do, they think they can fix it themselves.” The third barrier is actually reaching out and asking for help.
There is help available says Elliott “The Royal Canadian Legion works with Veterans Affairs and Northern Health. They all have facilities or people there to help those with PTSD. The first point of contact can be your local Doctor, or the hospital, come and talk to any of the local Legions, ask to speak to a Service officer, and they will get you in touch with the right people to help you. There’s all sorts of telephone help lines, social media, and support groups through Veterans Affairs, so yes, there is stuff there.”
But there is a geographical problem when it comes to accessing some resources says Elliott as most of the specialized treatment programs are offered in the major urban centres such as Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa “And there’s waiting lists to get to see the relevant personnel.” He says while there are programs and psychiatric help available in Prince George, it could take a couple of months before someone with PTSD can connect with some of the programs and services. Having to wait is not an issue that is unique to Prince George, says Elliot, it is a common problem right across Canada “It would be great if we had more money and more professionals to help our veterans.”
He is concerned, there may be more cases of PTSD on the horizon, “On average, it can take ten years before PTSD can raise its ugly head, so we are right in the middle of a ten year anniversary of Canadians in Afghanistan.”
You don’t have to be a veteran to suffer from PTSD.
According to the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Association of Canada, there are many symptoms linked to PTSD and may include:
- a deep sense of helplessness,
- problems at home or work,
- abnormal fear,
- feelings of devastation,
- flashbacks from the event,
- a feeling of numbness,
- aversion to social contact, or
- avoidance of situations that might trigger memories of the event.
The Association says some physical responses may include depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, panic attacks, irritability, anger outbursts, difficulty with concentration or memory, feelings of vulnerability, fear of normal every-day activities, or feeling overwhelmed by the smallest of tasks.
“The first thing to do is to recognize the signs” says Elliott “and talk to your Doctor. I can’t emphasize enough the first contact should be with your doctor and if you’re a veteran, please contact your local Legions and ask to speak to a Service Officer, we are here to help.”