Skip to main content

PTSD Awareness Day: Seeing the invisible illness

The College of Liberal Arts sits down with psychology professor Steve Maren to discuss National PTSD Awareness Day--a disorder that affects an estimated 13 million people.

By Haley Venglar ’19

Some illnesses are easy to see with the naked eye. Others, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are invisible and insidious, difficult to explain and even harder to understand. That’s why today, June 27, is National PTSD Awareness Day—to bring awareness to a disorder that effects an estimated 13 million people.

PTSD occurs after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, from a car accident to assault.

Steve Maren, professor of psychology and PTSD researcher, said, “PTSD is particularly relevant given the ever-increasing levels of stress that people are experiencing in combat roles and in our day-to-day lives.”

In April of this year, Maren was named a Texas A&M University Distinguished Professor, which is the top award given by the university, thanks in part to his groundbreaking research and teaching on this topic.

According to the National Center for PTSD, the disorder presents specific symptoms: reliving the event through nightmares or flashbacks, avoiding situations that remind you of the event, negative changes in beliefs and feelings about yourself and others, being jittery, losing sleep, being easily startled, and having trouble concentrating. Sufferers should seek help if symptoms last longer than three months, cause great distress, or disrupt everyday life.

Maren believes that part of the reason people refuse to seek help is the ongoing stigma of all mental health issues—including drug addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or depression.

“Any psychiatric illness is just that—an illness. It is not the result of a failure to cope or deal with stressful events,” said Maren. “These are treatable brain illnesses that we need to invest resources in to understanding these conditions. Psychological and neurological disorders are just as important as cardiovascular diseases or cancer.”

For more information on PTSD, including ways to seek help, click here.