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Words Matter: PTSD vs. PTSI


A note about our use of the term ‘PTSI’ over the more commonly accepted term ‘PTSD’ in our cover story.

Around the world, there is a debate about whether to use the term PTSD or the newer term PTSI. Both terms refer to the affects of Post Traumatic Stress, which is the echo of traumatic events that occurred in a person’s past.

PTSD is the name everyone knows, and because of that it can carry a stigma that follows the victim and can further disrupt their lives, families, and careers.

PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) is listed in the fifth and most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) which was published in 2013.

Many providers and government bodies prefer ‘PTSD’ since the DSM-V is considered the authority on mental illness. But the DSM is not without flaw, and has been famously updated in the past to add, remove, or change the definition or presence of things which are no longer considered pathological.

The term PTSI (Post-Traumatic Stress Injury) was coined to remove the stigma of PTSD from the victims of post-traumatic stress. It places the focus on treating the injury rather than person. It is part of an effort to help everyone view a PTSD victim as someone with a temporary injury rather than someone with a permanent condition.

The use of PTSI has been adopted widely by counseling groups, psychologists, and news agencies.

We have chosen to use it because whether someone’s PTSI comes from work as a first responder, military service, an accident, or some sort of abuse, the victim isn’t the problem.But simply changing what we call this illness won’t remove the stigma, and it won’t heal those affected.

It is incumbent on all of us to be mindful of our own mental health and that of our loved ones, friends, and colleagues. This is especially true with anyone who works in public safety, healthcare, or other industries where you may be exposed to life and death situations on a routine basis.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 3.5% of us have a PTSI, and about 1 in 11 will be diagnosed at some point. With new treatments like Eye Movement, Desensitization, Reprocessing, and psilocybin, there is more hope now for PTSI sufferers than ever. These treatments, when coupled with traditional psychotherapy, can save lives.

If you are thinking about suicide, or you are worried about a friend or loved one who may be, there is help available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. These calls are free and confidential.

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