PTSD Awareness and Advocacy: Chicago’s Efforts to Break the Stigma

Written by: Angela Derrick, Ph.D. & Susan McClanahan, Ph.D.

PTSD Awareness and Advocacy: Chicago’s Efforts to Break the Stigma

PTSD Awareness and Advocacy: Chicago’s Efforts to Break the Stigma

In the bustling city of Chicago, there are many people who suffer silently with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This issue quietly affects many communities, causing lasting pain that doesn’t discriminate based on background or status. Even in such a vibrant city like Chicago, people can still feel alone in their pain when it goes unnoticed and unacknowledged.

Here are the best estimates for the frequency of PTSD in the U.S. adult population according to a study published by National Center for PTSD

  • About six out of every one hundred people (or 6% of the U.S. population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives. Many people who have PTSD will recover and no longer meet diagnostic criteria for PTSD after treatment. So, this number counts people who have PTSD at any point in their life, even if their symptoms go away.
  • About five out of every one hundred adults (or 5%) in the U.S. has PTSD in any given year. In 2020, about thirteen million Americans had PTSD.

The widespread nature of PTSD in Chicago means that every member of our community has a role to play in supporting those who are silently suffering. Together, we can make a difference by showing understanding, offering support, and making sure that those who suffer with PTSD find the appropriate treatment to address their symptoms. 

Understanding PTSD and Its Effect

First, we have to recognize what PTSD looks like.  PTSD is characterized by anxiety, intrusive memories, nightmares, avoidance of perceived threats, and an array of emotional and physical symptoms in response to exposure to a traumatic event or ongoing traumatic events.  Some possible symptoms include greater emotional arousal, hypervigilance, trouble sleeping, and acting out behaviors such as anger or aggression at times.  Substance abuse and eating disorders can manifest from untreated PTSD, as an individual seeks to manage the fear and helplessness associated with the aftermath of a trauma.  PTSD can take many different forms and everyone’s experience can be different, which is why a qualified mental health professional should help assess for PTSD. 

Historically, stigma and silence, fueled by misunderstanding, has surrounded PTSD, which has impacted access to treatment for many. 

Chicago’s PTSD Treatment Options

In the spirited city of Chicago, there are many groups working hard to bring hope and healing to those dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. These organizations are the quiet heroes, turning painful stories of trauma into journeys of recovery and strength through various treatment methods including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Prolonged Exposure Therapy, Cognitive Processing Therapy, Written Expressive Therapy, EMDR, forms of somatic interventions and medication therapy.  Various organizations focus on different forms of trauma, including war combat, sexual violence, forms of discrimination and mistreatment, and event-related traumas.  When selecting a place to receive treatment, it is important to learn which places focus on the specific type of trauma that needs to be addressed. 

Survivors of PTSD can also find a place of comfort and assistance in support groups. Each support group acts as a safe haven, allowing people to connect through shared emotional experiences, creating strong bonds and respecting everyone’s unique stories.

Mental health workers and supporters are leading the fight against the misunderstanding and stigma of PTSD in Chicago. Psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, social workers, and volunteers bring their skills and care to help those who are suffering, providing hope and support in challenging times.

PTSD in Children and Teens: Early Intervention

PTSD in Children and Teens: Early Intervention

Children and teens with PTSD carry the traumatic burden of their experiences every day. The nightmares, anxiety, and overwhelming fear persist, often in silence, undermining their ability to embrace the beautiful potential each day and each moment holds.

Why is early intervention essential? The flexibility of young minds, while a source of resilience and adaptability, also renders them particularly susceptible to the long-term detrimental impacts of trauma if it goes unaddressed.

Collaboration among schools, healthcare providers, community centers, and government agencies is paramount. We must dispel the stigmas surrounding mental health and trauma, opening avenues for dialogue, support, and healing. Fortunately, there is much that parents and teachers can do to offer support, validation, and guidance to young people who are suffering.  Therapists can direct parents to resources that are developmentally appropriate for children at different ages. 

Challenges and Roadblocks: What Needs to be Done

There exists a pressing need to intensify advocacy efforts and raise greater awareness. While access to treatment is growing, it still faces substantial hurdles such as economic, cultural, and systemic obstacles. Each of these barriers stands as a stronghold that requires concerted efforts to overcome, ensuring that support and healing are accessible to all.

However, the journey persists. PTSD, complex and elusive, requires vigilance and attention. Awareness is not a finite goal but a continuous path, cultivated daily through every conversation, shared stories, and dispelled misconceptions. Each contributes to the progress toward a society where silence is replaced by understanding and compassionate dialogue. 

The more we as a society understand PTSD, the less we have to fear, and the more we can be ready to aid those who may be suffering find the resources that they need. 

Join Us on Your Journey to Wellness at Spring Source Center Chicago

Join Us on Your Journey to Wellness at Spring Source Center Chicago

If you’re struggling with trauma, depression, an eating disorder, relationship issues, stress, or anxiety, you’re not alone. Millions of people struggle with these conditions every day. But there is help available. At SpringSource Psychological Center, we believe that healing is a journey, not a destination. We offer a variety of mental health services to help you heal and thrive. Our experienced and compassionate clinicians will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that meets your unique needs and goals.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you or call us at 224-202-6260.

We understand that taking the first step towards getting help can be difficult. But we want you to know that you are not alone. We are here to support you.