Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a recognized condition associated with traumatic events which an individual lives through. The diagnostic symptoms for PTSD include re-experiencing the original trauma(s) through flashbacks or nightmares, avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, and increased arousal — such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, anger, and hyper vigilance.
PTSD is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any life and death experience, the threat of harm or death or sexual assault. The experience overwhelms the person’s ability to deal with social and emotional personal issues or the ability to hold down a job. In the end the person begins to battle bouts of depression, as well disassociates himself from his family or friends. PTSD is at times a non-reversible condition that worsens with time, if left untreated.
Combat related PTSD symptoms appear to be more long term emotional, physical, and cognitive symptoms. Most people associate PTSD with battle-scarred soldiers — and military combat is the most common cause in men.
The Army’s first study of the mental health of troops who fought in Iraq found that about one in eight reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Symptoms of major depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder were reported by 16 percent to 17 percent of those who served in Iraq, 11 percent of those who were in Afghanistan and 9 percent questioned before they left.
PTSD develops differently from person to person. While the symptoms of PTSD most commonly develop in the hours or days following the traumatic event, it can sometimes take weeks, months, or even years before they appear.
The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can arise at any moment in time, suddenly, gradually, or come and go over time. Sometimes symptoms appear may appear out of the blue. At other times, they are triggered by something that reminds the person of the original traumatic event, such as a being in a certain place, noise, an image, certain words, or a distinctive smell.
The three main types of PTSD symptoms include.:
1. Re-experiencing the traumatic event
2. Avoiding reminders of the trauma
3. Increased anxiety and emotional arousal
There are several precautions that servicemembers can take to avoid getting unfairly discharged for PTSD. The DoD has taken steps to ensure that servicemembers get the most extensive test and procedures ran on them to avoid further complications. Some of those include:
- Awarding more than $500 million in research studies on traumatic brain injuries and psychological health;
- Investing in pre-deployment resiliency training;
- Conducting acute concussion screening for all patients evacuated from combat theaters with head and neck injuries;
- An effort to revamp pre- and post-deployment screenings to make them more comprehensive;
- A new program designed to help primary care providers recognize warning signs of PTSD;
- Mandatory physical exams within 12 months of a servicemember’s separation
A Navy study in 2010 showed that injured servicemembers who receive morphine during trauma care are about half as likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder as those who are not administered the drug. The study also found that the use of morphine directly after injury during resuscitation and early trauma care was associated with a reduced risk of PTSD.
Education is one of the most efficient ways of recognizing and treating PTSD. Learn about the symptoms, talk to friends and families, and get educated on the signs and preventions of PTSD.
To learn additional information on signs, symptoms, and treatments, visit helpguide.org.
Getting help as soon as possible is the best way to overcome the disorder progressing and getting worse. If you’re a U.S. veteran suffering from PTSD or trauma, you can turn to your local VA hospital or Vet Center for help. Vet Centers offer free counseling to combat veterans and their families.
To find out more about the resources and benefits available to you, you can also call the VA Health Benefits Service Center at 1-877-222-VETS.