Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 

PTSD, as defined by the National Institute of Health, is an anxiety disorder that can be experienced after seeing or living through a dangerous or traumatic event. It is important to your health to recognize symptoms of PTSD and know resources for seeking help. 


Veterans and PTSD

Military personnel because of the nature of their work and exposure to war, disaster, and trauma are especially vulnerable to PTSD. 

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD is the nation’s leading provider of care for PTSD with nearly 500,000 veterans currently in treatment. VA has many entry points to care through the use of veterans readjustment counseling centers, the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255, press 1), and integration of mental health services in the primary care setting. Since 2007, VA has seen a 35 percent increase in the number of veterans receiving mental health services, and a 41 percent increase in mental health staff. 

The VA raises awareness of PTSD and provides resources to individuals, families, and communities designed to help those who may be at risk. These include:  

Have You Ever Served?

Have You Ever Served"Have You Ever Served?" is an initiative that affects both healthcare providers and our patients. Various exposures over the course of a soldier’s service can affect his or her well being and should be considered prior to undergoing anesthesia: resulting conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), respiratory illnesses, etc. The American Academy of Nursing is seeking to improve the quality of veterans' healthcare with this simple question and urges healthcare providers to use it in order to identify and address any healthcare issues rising from a patient's service in the military.
The campaign was launched in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, and Washington, initially benefitting approximately one million veterans. Subsequently, "Have You Ever Served?" was rolled out to all 50 states over a three-year period.
In addition to the American Academy of Nursing (AAN), "Have You Ever Served?" is sponsored by the Veterans Support Foundation and the Connecticut Department of Veteran's Affairs.
"Have you ever served in the military?" represents the AAN’s commitment to First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces campaign, to mobilize all sectors of the community to support veterans and their families. Nurses, healthcare’s equivalent to the boots on the ground, are uniquely positioned to facilitate this fundamental change of ensuring vital information is obtained and recorded in order to improve the quality of healthcare provided to our veterans and their families.

Veteran Resources

Healthcare Provider Resources


Adverse Events

PTSD can occur in both personal and professional situations for a variety of events. Nurse anesthetists and student nurse anesthetists, like other health care professionals, face workplace situations that can trigger PTSD; military nurse anesthetists in service to our country can have an increased likelihood. Other CRNA workplace events that have the potential to cause trauma:  

Links to online PTSD information:

Where to get help

  • VA Info on PTSD Help
    • At work - do you have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) with resources?
    • Feeling emotional trauma following an adverse event?  See Adverse Events.


PTSD Symptoms

  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) lists the common symptoms:  
    • The emotional and physical symptoms of PTSD fall within these three categories: 
      1. Re-experiencing symptoms
      2. Avoidance symptoms
      3. Hyperarousal symptoms 

Resilience can help reduce the response to stressful experiences

In the Wellness Milestones article, Balance and Bounce, author Sandra Tunajek, CRNA, DNP reports that researchers from the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) developed a rating of Responses to Stressful Experiences Scale (RSES) to identify six key factors to psychological resistance that:

  1. positive outlook,
  2. spirituality,
  3. active coping,
  4. self-confidence,
  5. learning and making meaning, and
  6. acceptance of limits.