Post-traumatic stress disorder not just a military disorder

Ute Lawrence never went to war and never saw a conflict zone. But she did find herself on the wrong stretch of highway one September day 13 yrs ago. And that's when everything changed. One of Canada's most deadly highway pileups sent her on a lonely, uncharted journey through the world of PTSD. Today, we're talking about identifying the traumas that will linger.



Three of The Current

Civilian post-traumatic stress disorder

Catherine Galliford says she endured years of sexual harassment as an RCMP Officer and that the experience left her with post-traumatic stress disorder: PTSD. Since she went making her allegations public, at least three other women have emerged to say they too are suffering from PTSD ... all as a result of prolonged sexual harassment in the workplace.

PTSD has a long history of being misunderstood and misdiagnosed. For decades, it was viewed with skepticism. And even now, it is often assumed to be something only a war-zone can produce. But people who work in the field say war-related cases of PTSD are just the tip of the iceberg.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, about 1 in 10 Canadians experiences PTSD and the triggers vary widely, from a violent attack to being fired at work. In that way, the face of PTSD continues to change.

To get a better idea of how that's happening, The Current's Shannon Higgins went to visit one woman with PTSD at her home in Toronto. Because of the sensitive nature of her trauma, we have agreed to withhold her name.

Ute Lawrence knows how isolating PTSD can be. After she survived one of the most horrific highway accidents in Canadian history, she created the PTSD Association of Canada, the first PTSD organization in North America not focused on the military. Ute Lawrence is also the author of The Power of Trauma: Conquering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and she was in London, Ontario. Ruth Lanius is the Director of the Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Research Unit at the University of Western Ontario. And Dr. Alain Brunet is a Professor of Psychiatry at McGill University and the Director of the Psychosocial Research Division at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute.


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