PTSD vs. PTSI: Reducing Stigma and Improving Access to Care

PTSD vs. PTSI: Reducing Stigma and Improving Access to Care
If you think that you may be experiencing symptoms, take this online PTSD test or speak to a Care Advocate now by calling (908) 293-7559.


Language is one of the most critical aspects surrounding mental health care. The wrong dialogue can lead to powerful stigmas that prevent us from seeking the care we desperately need - specifically dialogue surrounding post-traumatic stress disorder. In recent years, the term "disorder" has raised concerns about stigmatization and often discourages individuals from seeking help. 


But before we get into that, we may be asking ourselves what the difference is between PTSD and PTSI.


What's The Difference Between PTSD, PTS, and PTSI?

Stella is leading the way in innovative and effective treatments for post-traumatic stress that identify post-traumatic stress as an injury. We believe that post-traumatic stress caused by an emotional trauma can trigger biological changes and overactivates the sympathetic nervous system. 

The most commonly used term is PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, which is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. 

PTS, or post-traumatic stress, is used in the transition when moving away from the use of PTSD to PTSI. 

PTSI, or post-traumatic stress injury, refers to the same set of symptoms as PTSD. However, while PTSD refers to a psychiatric disorder, the PTSI definition refers to a biological injury. 

Many people experiencing post-traumatic stress are not diagnosed with PTSD and often do not recognize their signs and symptoms. Trauma comes in many different forms like a car accident, racism and hate speech, Long COVID, emotional abuse by a loved one, and even an athlete whose career is derailed by a torn ACL. 

The survey that could lead to a significant change in dialogue

In an effort to reduce those stigmas and improve access to care, Stella's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Eugene Lipov, has proposed renaming PTSD to PTSI. A recent study conducted by Stella between August 2021 and August 2022 explored the potential impact of this name change. 

The results, posted on Cureus during Mental Health Awareness Month, confirm Dr. Lipov's theory.

The study involved an anonymous online survey distributed to 3,000 adult participants, including patients, visitors, and website users of Stella. Out of the 1,353 responses received, 1,025 complete responses were analyzed. The survey assessed participants' opinions on whether renaming PTSD to PTSI would reduce stigma and improve their hope and likelihood of seeking medical help.

The results revealed that over two-thirds of the respondents agreed that changing the name to PTSI would reduce the stigma associated with PTSD. More than half of the respondents believed this name change would increase their hope of finding a solution and their likelihood of seeking medical help. And those diagnosed with PTSD were more likely to believe in the positive impact of renaming.


A new day for PTSI

One of the biggest hurdles to renaming PTSD to PTSI is having it recognized by those who can make a change.

Lawmakers, activists, advocates, and medical professionals are the key to bringing the change of name.

Stella's White Paper, authored by Dr. Lipov and Stella's Chief Psychologist Officer, Dr. Shauna Springer, acknowledges the movement to change PTSD to PTSI was first propelled by Psychiatrist Frank Ochberg, the psychiatrist who coined the term "Stockholm Syndrome." 

"We often manage "disorders," while we heal from 'injuries.'" – Dr. Shauna Springer & Dr. Eugene Lipov, From Post-Traumatic Stress Injury To Sustained Healing: A New Model For Care, Oct 7, 2021. 

"Disorder" is often associated with an inherent deficiency, like immunodeficiencies or metabolic disorders – something a person is often born with, can identify themselves by, and/or is permanent. In contrast, "injury" is a no-fault or no-shame word. Most injuries are treatable using the right methods. Methods that are currently available to those in need. With the right dialogue around post-traumatic stress, including renaming PTSD to PTSI, people will seek treatment. The survey and its results are the first steps to working toward a better pathway to healing. 

In the Spring of 2023, the Illinois Governor released a proclamation recognizing June 27, 2023, as Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Day, promoting understanding and awareness of the challenge, its symptoms, and the treatments to bring relief to those in need. 

Actions like these help reduce the barriers for individuals with post-traumatic stress seeking treatment. By removing the term "disorder," the new name aims to shift the perception of PTSD from a lifelong mental health challenge to an injury that can be treated and healed. This reframing and legislation from one of the most populated states in the U.S. could encourage us all to seek the help we need without fear of judgment or self-stigmatization and lead us to explore various treatment options, including innovative, cutting-edge treatments such as our Ketamine Infusion Therapy and the Dual Sympathetic Reset, an advanced Stellate Ganglion Block. This expanded willingness to seek different forms of treatment could lead to better outcomes and enhanced quality of life.

It is a step towards fostering a more supportive and inclusive environment that encourages individuals to seek the help they need and deserve. 



Stigma Breaking Treatments


The treatments to combat the symptoms of PTSD have varied over the last century. While electroshock and physical conditioning were often used to help soldiers suffering from "shell shock" after World War I, modern-day therapies and medications have become the new standard of care. 

However, progress takes time. In the last 20 years, only two medications have been FDA approved for PTSD, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. This leads to many innovative treatments to be considered off-label. Usually, there is a common misconception that off-label treatments are unsafe or ineffective. However, this is simply not the case. The designation of "off-label" use for a medication does not necessarily indicate that the FDA has conducted drug trials and determined the substance to be unsafe or ineffective. Rather, it may simply imply that the FDA has not yet completed clinical trials for the specific use in question.

With new information and a growing awareness of the stigmas, treatment innovations grew and new modalities were being created all around the world. One treatment that went through years of trials and ridicule to prove its effectiveness is the stellate ganglion block for PTSD. Since it first started being used as a treatment to help the symptoms of PTSI, it's helped thousands around the world, including Dr. Lipov.

Earlier this year, Dr. Lipov received his second stellate ganglion block treatment – the same one he's been providing people with for a better part of two decades. He has faced an insurmountable amount of trauma throughout his life, like the loss of loved ones, and even faced intergenerational trauma - trauma that a parent or grandparent faces that can be passed down. He described his trauma as "a cold hand over his heart" and knew this treatment could make the change he needed as it has for thousands worldwide. This is Lipov's second SGB treatment in five years, and once again, noticed an improvement in his symptoms after the treatment. 

Trying to find the right words to describe his positive feelings, Lipov said he immediately felt more focused and was ready to go back to work tirelessly to make this treatment available for others. 

"It's such a simple thing that can make your life so much better." - Dr. Eugene Lipov



Are you experiencing symptoms of PTSI?

Stella's Symptom Quiz is a brief assessment that measures symptoms related to post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, and stress. By taking this quiz, you can get an understanding of your symptoms and see if you may be a good fit for Treatment by Stella, take the quiz here.

Stella is a leader in treating symptoms of emotional trauma and mental health challenges with innovative treatments like the Dual Sympathetic Reset (DSR), an advanced Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB). If you want to find out more information about DSR SGB, please speak to a Care Advocate.



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