Millions of Americans suffer from PTSD, but men and women who serve in the military are often far more susceptible to this condition. What’s just as troubling, however, is the number of veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder but aren’t diagnosed and, as a result, aren’t properly treated.

Being diagnosed with PTSD can seem like a burden, but in reality, it’s the first step toward a solution. If you have ever wondered if you have PTSD, then chances are, at the very minimum, you’d benefit from talking to a mental health care provider.

Only a mental health care provider can accurately determine if you suffer from PTSD or some other condition that can be treated.

Steps you can take if you’re concerned you might have PTSD

Following any type of traumatic event, it’s perfectly expected that you’d think, act, and feel differently than usual. These symptoms typically subside after a few weeks. If, however, they last longer than a few months, or are disrupting your life, then it’s time to seek the guidance of others.

The first thing we recommend you do is talk to someone you trust. This may begin with a close friend or family member, or someone you know who’s experienced these same conditions. This type of support will help you see you’re not alone; however, it’s also important you talk to someone with more experience in the matter, such as your family doctor, a therapist, or someone in your local VA Center.

Next, we suggest you take a self-screen for PTSD. Self-screens are effective because they allow you to get a better picture of your possible condition, from the safety and comfort of your own home. Below is the PC-PTSD-5 self-screen test, as shared by the National Center for PTSD:

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 of the 5 items above, you should talk to a mental health care provider to learn more about PTSD and PTSD treatment.

An important note about this self-screen test:

If you answer yes to 3 or more questions, that doesn’t mean you have PTSD. In the end, only a mental health care provider can determine that for sure. And, even if you don’t answer “yes” to 3 or more questions, you may still want to speak to a mental health provider.

Seek professional help

It’s not uncommon for PTSD sufferers to assume their symptoms will go away. It’s not uncommon, in fact, for symptoms to subside from time to time. However, it’s crucial that you seek help as early as possible.

Early treatment decreases the chances of your symptoms becoming worse. That being said, it’s never too late to get treatment. By seeking professional help, you’re not only benefiting yourself, but you’re benefiting those around you who are also affected by your condition.

Seeking professional help will also help you determine if your PTSD is related to other health problems (such as a heart condition), or whether you’re suffering from PTSD at all.

Lastly, find the best treatment that works for you

Today, there are many different options available to treat PTSD, including medication, therapy, or a combination of both. Even with therapy, who you work with will impact the effectiveness of your treatment. Even if it takes time to find the “perfect” solution, rest assured that each step you do take is one step closer toward conquering PTSD and taking back your life.