Seventy-five percent of North American adults have been exposed to a traumatic event, according to Dr. Ash Bender, a psychiatrist with The Scarborough Hospital. Dr. Bender was part of a panel of speakers who spoke about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at an event hosted by The Scarborough Hospital Community Advisory Council on February 17, 2015. The event included an open and educational dialogue about this serious mental health disorder that affects individuals in different ways, often impacting those around them as well.
Other panelists who shared their expertise or talked about their experience with PTSD included:
- Sonia Couto, Mental Health Counsellor with the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture, who discussed the work of their organization with many new Canadians who come to our country after experiencing trauma in their country of origin.
- Captain (Retired) Michael I. Cole, whose experience includes service in both Gulf Wars and who suffers from PTSD, and
- Commander Leo Tsang of the Toronto Paramedic Services, whose experience includes 16 years as a front-line paramedic and who provides support to paramedics who are suffering from the impact of trauma that defines the nature of this work.
Dr. Bender shared a variety of PTSD symptoms that can indicate that someone is suffering from this sometimes debilitating mental illness. Emotional symptoms include irritability, sadness and anxiety. Flashbacks, intrusive reminders, nightmares and a sense of hopelessness can also occur. Those affected by PTSD may experience impaired concentration, distractibility, and memory problems. Physical symptoms include sleep changes, fatigue and pain, requiring medication or treatment. Many of those who suffer from PTSD do so in silence for fear of the stigma attached to mental illness.
“Most need education and encouragement to seek treatment due to stigma, fears of treatment with ‘addictive medication’ or expected breaches of confidentiality,” Dr. Bender noted.
The good news is that help is available from a variety of sources. If you or a loved one are experiencing PTSD and are ready to seek help, then contact your family doctor or employee assistance program and they can put you in touch with a variety of publicly- and privately-funded services.
To see the presentations shared as part of the PTSD Awareness Event hosted by The Scarborough Hospital Community Advisory Committee, go to: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF5bSG4YPdP-KuAEjDcds9g
To learn about Equine Relief for First Responders, a confidential two-day workshop offered by The Mane Intent, go to: https://themaneintent.ca/equine-relief-first-responders-new-offering/
Additional resources include:
National Centre for PTSD at www.ptsd.va.gov/
TEMA Centre Memorial Trust at www.tema.ca