Christian Benedetto didn’t know he had post-traumatic stress disorder until 2013 – 22 years after he returned from fighting in the Gulf War, NJ.com reports.
It took some time for Benedetto to understand that his four years in the Marines and his time in combat had affected his mental health.
“I had nightmares sometimes, I had panic attacks,” he said. “But it wasn’t until I was in my late 30s until I realized that there were things happening that were consequences (of my time in the armed services).”
An encounter with his son made him realize something may be wrong.
Benedetto’s son, then five years old, jumped on him one morning while he was in the middle of a nightmare. He jolted awake and grabbed his child’s arm.
“It scared him a little, but it scared me a lot more,” Benedetto recalled. He was diagnosed with PTSD later that year.
Since being diagnosed, Benedetto has experienced improvements in his symptoms. He has managed his PTSD with a medley of treatment, including medication, diet and lifestyle changes, and yoga.
A pressing concern of Benedetto’s is the lack of awareness about the issue, especially since it affects millions of people in the United States alone.
In response to this concern, Benedetto launched a quarterly magazine and website, the PTSD Journal. The organization is based in Maplewood, N.J. and the magazine is distributed nationwide.
The magazine’s objective is to raise awareness of PTSD and educate people on the condition and whom it affects.
“If you look at the statistics, basically everyone knows someone or is somehow affected by PTSD, but people really don’t know enough about it,” Benedetto said. “When people ask me who this magazine is for, I say everyone.”
Benedetto hopes the magazine will provide people with more accurate information and a better understanding of PTSD, because the condition is often misunderstood.
The New Jersey native listed the following as the top five misconceptions people have about PTSD:
- PTSD is just a military disorder
Many people think PTSD is just for veterans, when in fact anyone who has experienced trauma can develop PTSD.
Dr. Amy Silvestri Hunter of Seton Hall University said, “It can happen after many different types of trauma, including personal events such as being a victim of sexual assault or being in a car accident, or second-hand experiences such as seeing traumatic events in the media,” she said. “It’s even been reported to occur in some people who spent time in the intensive care unit of a hospital.”
- Only men get it
Since many people think only veterans experience PTSD, it is also common for people to generalize and think mostly (or even only) men are affected by PTSD.
“People don’t realize who this impacts,” Benedetto said. “Victims of sexual assault, inner city kids, and autistic people are all at a much higher risk of having PTSD.”
- PTSD is a sign of weakness
“Part of this process of making the magazine has been therapeutic,” he said. “It has helped me to understand that I am not alone, which is really the most important part.”
- Everyone with PTSD is a threat to others
Awareness about PTSD is as important for people without the condition as it is for those with it. People need to know how to deal with people with PTSD, and not just see them as a threat.
- There is a cure
PTSD cannot be cured, but it can be treated.
“There is no cure,” Benedetto said. “But, you can treat the symptoms…you can work toward (relief) and awareness. That’s what I’m trying to do.”