April 15 marks the one year anniversary of the Boston marathon bombings, and anniversaries of traumatic events can cause victims to relive the event, spurring feelings of distress, sadness, or anxiety. Because victims of traumatic events may seek services initially in their PCP’s office, rather than in a mental health setting, PCPs may want to incorporate PTSD screening, as appropriate, into their office visits.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affair’s National Center for PTSD describes an “anniversary reaction” as an increase in distress around the anniversary of a traumatic event. These reactions can range from an individual feeling mildly upset to experiencing significant psychiatric or medical symptoms. Symptoms may include:
- Re-experiencing: Re-living feelings, physiological responses, and thoughts that occurred at the time of the event
- Avoidance: Avoiding situations, places, or people that are connected to the event in an attempt to avoid difficult emotions such as distress, sadness, or fear
- Anxiety/irritability: Feeling nervous and on edge, having trouble sleeping or concentrating; feeling jumpy or on guard
The SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions website provides resources and screening tools such as the Abbreviated PCL-C, which is a brief PTSD checklist developed for use within primary care or other similar general medical settings.
How Optum/United Behavioral Health (Optum/UBH) can help your patients—For complex clinical situations, Optum/UBH is available to provide consultative assistance. Practitioners can call the Optum/UBH Physicians Consultation Service at (800) 292-2922. To refer a patient for behavioral health services and to facilitate the coordination of care, call Optum/UBH at (888) 777-4742.