KILLEEN, Texas — A study shows that PTSD carries a stigma for veterans, whether they suffer from it or not.
According to a survey by The Cohen Veterans Network, Americans have big misconceptions about PTSD and how to treat it.
According to the study, two-thirds of Americans believe most veterans suffer from PTSD. But the reality is that PTSD only impacts between 11-20% of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans.
Dr. Cheryl Paulus, who has helped treat hundreds of patients with PTSD, couldn’t believe the results.
"My first gut reaction was surprised,” Paulus said.
One in four Americans who were surveyed said they believed the majority of people with PTSD were violent and dangerous.
The reality is that the majority of people with PTSD have never engaged in violence.
Other misconceptions identified in the survey included when symptoms occur and the treatability of PTSD.
40% of Americans said they believe that PTSD occurs immediately after a traumatic event. The truth is that while PTSD symptoms often start within three months of a traumatic event, it is possible for them to emerge years later.
One in four Americans said they believe PTSD is not treatable. The reality is that PTSD is treatable and that there are evidence-based, effective treatment options available.
Chaplain Robert Brott, the Lead Clinician at the Cohen Clinic says misconceptions like these have far-reaching consequences.
He says misconceptions isolate people from their community and make it harder to ask for help.
“It’s a big deal because people are afraid to come in, to begin with,” said Chaplain Brott. “There’s nothing to be scared of. It's just about having the courage to address it.”