MINNEAPOLIS - It's that time of year when we burst with national pride. It's worth remembering that many people, including many of those who fought for our country, struggle with symbolic bombs bursting in air.
Psychologists Brian Engdahl and Ryan Van Wyk talked with KARE 11 about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on June 27, a day dedicated to Post Traumatic Stress Awareness.
"If you have been through one or more horrible experiences, and the memories of those experiences are intruding into your life, through nightmares, daytime memories that you don't want to be having, and are affecting your life, your relationships with other people, that's a pretty good sign that you have some elements of what we call PTSD," said Engdahl.
Engdahl has been working with veterans for more than 35 years. Though PTSD wasn't even diagnosed until 1980 he says understanding it has leaped forward in recent years.
"The research we have been doing shows that PTSD is real. You can actually see it on a brain scan," said Engdahl. "This has been quite a relief to the people who have joined in our studies, meaning that it's not really just in their heads. It's very real."
But both Engdahl and Van Wyk say that research is just the beginning.
"Despite us having some knowledge of PTSD for decades now, there is still a lack of training and awareness that professionals come into the field with," Van Wyk said
That's why he helped start the Minnesota Trauma Project, a local non-profit that set out to bridge that gap.
"We started Minnesota Trauma Project as a way to bring increased opportunity for clinicians to get training and also to bring some message of hope that people can recover and PTSD isn't a life sentence," Van Wyk added.
The group has helped educate everyone from veterans and firefighters to victims of childhood trauma, and others who are looking for help.
"Options for treatment are expanding. It is not required, necessarily, that you re-experience and re-tell the very worst things you went through as a central part of your counseling," Engdahl said.
"I'd say go. Go seek help," Van Wyk said.
And if you know, or suspect someone who might be suffering in silence, they say start a dialogue especially if you're planning a celebration this Fourth of July.
"Just be open about it because when you ask first, you'll get an honest answer from those who would be truly affected negatively," Engdahl said.
"I think, avoid surprises like Brian said. Allowing people to be informed ahead of time goes a long way to reducing the shock that comes with sudden noises or things like that," Van Wyk said.