Every year, June 27 is observed as “Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Day” in the United States. The campaign aims to recognize the profound effects post-traumatic stress has on the lives of people who suffer from it. Regarded as a serious mental health condition, PTSD occurs as a response to chemical and neuronal changes in the brain after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying or traumatic event that cause people to feel fearful, shocked or helpless. These traumatic events can include – accidents, natural disasters, a terrorist attack, military combat, physical or sexual assault/abuse, or other violent personal assault. The condition can have long-term effects including flashbacks, difficulty sleeping, and anxiety. Reports from the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs (2020 statistics) suggest that there are currently about 8 million people in the United States with PTSD. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), women are more likely to be affected by PTSD than men. The stress disorder can happen to people of any age group. If left untreated, the condition can seriously impact one’s day-to-day activities and affect his/her ability to perform job, maintain health and relationships, and enjoy everyday activities. Psychiatrists or psychologists offering treatment for this condition can rely on the services of reliable medical billing and coding companies to meet their billing and coding requirements.
The 2021 one-day observance is a unique platform to generate public awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), educate a wide audience about PTSD, and provide people affected by PTSD with access to proper treatment. It also highlights the continuous struggle experienced by people affected by this stress disorder and what measures can be taken to make their lives a little easier. Signs and symptoms associated with the condition may generally begin within one month of a traumatic event. However, in certain other cases, symptoms may not appear until years after the event. PTSD symptoms are generally classified into four different types – intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Common symptoms include – refusing to discuss the event, hypersensitivity to possible dangers, flashbacks and a sensation that the event is happening again, fearful thoughts, difficulty sleeping, feelings of guilt and blame, feeling detached and estranged from others, difficulty concentrating and mental health problems such as depression, phobias, and anxiety. The severity of symptoms can vary over time or from person to person and cause significant problems in social or work situations and in relationships. They can also interfere with a person’s ability to deal with their normal daily tasks.
There is no specific test to diagnose PTSD. This is because people with the disorder may be hesitant to recall or discuss the trauma, or their symptoms. Psychiatrists or psychologists, as an initial stage of diagnosis, may perform a detailed physical examination to check for mental health problems that may be causing symptoms. A detailed psychological evaluation involving a discussion of the patient’s signs and symptoms and the event or events that led up to the traumatic event will also be performed. Psychiatrists may confirm the occurrence of the condition if the patient experiences problems that continue for more than a month and cause significant difficulty in functioning in social and work settings. Treatment usually involves a combination of psychotherapy and counseling, and medications. Psychotherapy options will be particularly tailored for managing trauma. Psychotherapy options involve – Cognitive therapy, Exposure therapy and Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Medications include antidepressants, prazosin and anti-anxiety medications. In addition, psychotherapists also offer stress management training to patients to accept the impact of the event they have experienced and take adequate action to better handle stressful situations.
Psychiatrists / psychologists treating PTSD patients must correctly document the screening tests and other treatment procedures offered using the right medical codes. Medical coding services from professional billing and coding companies can help with timely claim submissions for accurate reimbursement. ICD-10 codes for PTSD include –
- F43.1 – Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- F43.10 – Post-traumatic stress disorder, unspecified
- F43.11 – Post-traumatic stress disorder, acute
- F43.12 – Post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Day was initially established by the United States Senate in the year 2010. Senator Kent Conrad took specific effort to designate a separate day of awareness as a tribute or honor to Army Staff Sgt. Joe Biel of the North Dakota National Guard. Biel suffered from PTSD and committed suicide in April 2007 after returning to his home state from North Dakota, following his second tour of duty in the Iraq War. Thereafter, Army Staff Sgt. Joe Biel’s birthday – June 27, was chosen to mark the official PTSD Awareness Day to honor his memory. Later, in 2014, the US Senate designated the full month of June as “National PTSD Awareness Month”.
As part of the observance, a wide range of programs are arranged throughout the day. These include discussions about PTSD on open forums, and publishing circulars, articles, and other materials that help educate people about PTSD via social networks. People can share knowledge and promote PTSD awareness by using the hashtag #NationalPTSDAwarenessDay via social media platforms.