CRANFORD, NJ - As you walk down a local street enjoying the weather, the sights, and sounds you go through the little park with benches under the overpass and past several parked cars and vans. Up ahead you see a group of four young adults talking. Pretty harmless right? Just an ordinary day right? Wrong… if you are someone suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) this can be anything but a serene, peaceful, calming experience. Dealing with this same experience may instead be something like this… There is a sniper on top of the overpass, an IED (improvised explosive device) near the park bench, or one of these “guys” could be a suicide bomber. The sound of a car backfiring could sound like gun shots and the birds singing like bombs whistling toward you. Not so peaceful, not so enjoyable… in fact terrifying. PTSD is an anxiety disorder developed by some people, often in the military, who have had or witnessed an event that caused or threatened to cause serious harm or death. Symptoms include: “feeling on edge,” intense worry or guilt or avoidance of thoughts and situations that remind them of the trauma. Recurring memories of the event cause terror with cold sweats, trembling and unbearable anxiety. When treating veterans suffering with PTSD, I can see they are living this real nightmare. It can be devastating to them every day. Fortunately, there are treatments available. Therapy, medication, support groups, and a mobile app (PTSD Coach) are able to help minimize or manage symptoms. Supportive family and friends and avoidance of alcohol and drugs also help alleviate symptoms. Some facts based on the U.S. population: •7-8% of the population will have PTSD at some point in their lives •8 million adults have PTSD during a given year •The numbers of veterans with PTSD varies by service era but range from about 12% of Gulf War Veterans to about 15% of Vietnam Veterans If you or someone you know is suffering there is no need to suffer alone. PTSD does not “go away” or “cure itself.” Everyone deserves the best quality of life possible. Accepting treatment is a big step in the right direction…reach out. Here are some places to start: •911 or ER for Crisis •1-800-273-8255 Suicide Prevention Lifeline oPress 1 or TEXT 838255 •Find a therapist: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) oFor assistance call 24 hrs. a day •Contact Bravest First Program through Youth & Family Counseling The pain can stop anytime you choose- let the pain stop here and now. Carol M. Pedro is a licensed therapist at Youth and Family Counseling, 233 Prospect Street, Westfield, NJ (908) 233-2042. Website yfcsnj.org.