Post traumatic stress disorder is a very real condition our veterans face. The experiences our military professional face in war, causes them to experience PTSD and it is some that is treatable. Because of that, loved ones of veterans should take the time to encourage them to seek treatment and to play a supportive role as they combat this disorder.
PTSD is directly linked to a trauma of some kind. It might have been a life-threatening experience the individual went through while they were on the battlefield, or they may have witnessed a traumatic event unfold. While the nightmares and the shock might not set in immediately, they can creep on a person years later. This causes the individual to feel like they are in constant danger, and they will go into a state where they might become protective and hurt someone they love, as the result of a flashback.
When a veteran has experienced trauma, there are some common symptoms they will report as part of their PTSD. They include:
- A lack of interest in things they once enjoyed
- A numb feeling with items they would feel emotional about
- Being on guard, even when the situation doesn’t warrant it
- Inability to sleep
- Nightmares that relive the event
- Sudden and intense anger
While these situations can come and go, the underlying PTSD does need to be treated by an expert. The problem is once the trauma is experienced, the underlying concerns will remain deep rooted in you. Something can then trigger an episode without warning, and you will need to have the skills and tools that are essential for you to cope with the situation.
Causes of PTSD
Although veterans commonly experience their PTSD through the trauma of war, other events are considered traumatic and can lead to PTSD. When multiple events are combined, the likelihood of PTSD appearing in an individual greatly increases. This includes:
- An intensified traumatic experience (such as being in a violent crash, bomb explosion, or similar event)
- Being near a traumatic event that has unfolded.
- Losing your sense of control in a situation.
- Not having the right treatment or support network after a traumatic event.
Signs of PTSD
If you suspect a veteran you know might have PTSD, watch for serious life disruptive signs:
- They avoid situations that remind them of what happened.
- They excessively use drugs and alcohol.
- They are physically harming themselves or others.
- They are becoming isolated.
In these cases, intervention is critical so the healing process can begin. Since PTSD won’t go away on its, own, a veteran needs to face it with proven treatment options. They are counseling and prescription medications.
Treatment of PGSD
With professional counseling, a licensed therapist will explore ways they can address the thoughts and reactions they have. They will also be given various techniques that will allow them to address the situations as they arise. The medical community has proven that veterans who receive counseling for their PTSD are significantly less likely to harm themselves or others, while successfully learning to cope with it. In some cases, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors may be prescribed to further address the situation.
Take home message
The most important thing to remember, is that PTSD isn’t a mental condition you need to just learn to live with. While there is a sense of pride in veterans “rubbing dirt” on an injury and getting back in the field, this is a real condition that can haunt you for years to come. With treatment, you can reconnect with the ones you love, and feel like you are part of a community again. When things become more than you can bear, you will have the courage to tell someone you aren’t comfortable doing something. This allows you to be more at peace and to find you have more control over your life than you might realize.
With that in mind, you want to get the treatment process started. If you are comfortable and have a doctor that is experienced with treating veterans with PTSD that has resulted from trauma, work with them to find a mental health professional or prescription medication that can help. If you don’t have a doctor you trust, contact your local VA Medical Center. They will often have resources available to you so that you can have the treatment you need. Even a religious adviser can help you to find the resources you need to get the process started. Remember, you are not alone in this world. Thousands of others also have faced PTSD in the past and have overcome it and you or your loved one have what it takes to overcome this hill. It just takes guidance, a great support network, and some belief in yourself.