About 6 percent of the population deals with post-traumatic stress at some point in their life.
“While it's considered a military condition or a condition reserved for people who work in dangerous professions, it's more common than people think,” Sherman Gillums Jr., the chief strategy and impact officer of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), said.
Post-traumatic stress and the cost can be a burden.
“PTSD is a very complicated treatment,” Dr. Steven Berkowitz, professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said.
A new study by Veterans Affairs Research Communications shows that post-traumatic stress cost an estimated $232.2 billion in 2018, exceeding the cost of other common mental health conditions. The annual cost per civilian was $18,640 a year while the average for the military population was about $25,684 per individual.
“In some ways, I'm not surprised given our work and knowing how much systems are often involved for people who have PTSD,” Berkowitz said.
He said the costs can really add up.
“Let’s just assume that you need a year's worth of treatment,” he said. “Fifty weeks a year, $200 a week. That's a significant amount of money, that's $10,000 right there. Then the medical costs, prescription costs."
“Once it gets more advanced and they’re getting into more of a critical stage and not functioning well, then that cost can become overwhelming,” David Maulsby, the executive director of the PTSD Foundation of America, said.
It isn't just the cost tied directly to health care.
“The indirect cost, I think, shows up when it's misdiagnosed. When you have people locked up in jail instead of treated, or you have people lose their job because they didn't get the right help they needed,” Gillums Jr. said.
“Divorce, legal fees, child custody costs, that can all result from the mental health situation whether it’s being dealt with or not,” Maulsby said.
Berkowitz said it’s a lot of money and not much prevention in the first place.
“We’re putting so much money on the back end to deal with these things,” he said. “We can prevent people from being traumatized.”
Experts said prevention, catching signs early, and continuing to invest in better treatments and expanding programs are crucial.
“There's a need to continue to study this so we get a more accurate reading on how prevalent this condition really is,” Gillums Jr. said.