All About PTSD – Why Is It Common With Veterans

We react to trauma differently, and some people get hit by traumatic events harder than others. The men and women serving in the military come across all manner of situations, most of which leave them shaken for life. For others, the effects fade with time.

When these service men and women experience traumatic experiences frequently, it all turns into a chronic condition which we all know as the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD.

Defining PTSD

PTSD refers to a psychiatric disorder which occurs after exposure to a traumatic experience. Contrary to what a majority of the population thinks, PTSD affects anyone, not just the military officers in combat. In case of a serious accident, natural disaster, physical abuse, a life-threatening disease or sexual assault, the victim is likely to suffer from PTSD.

So, in simple, PTSD is the body’s psychological response after experiencing an intense event.  It can affect people of all cultures, ages, gender or professions. Therapy from a registered massage therapist may help, but there is more that should be done to manage the condition.

Though there are a lot of discussions about PTSD currently, this condition has been there for long. The first instances of PTSD were reported in Ancient Greece and during the American Civil War. Then, it has names such as Soldier’s Heart, Shell Shock, and War Neurosis. It wasn’t until 1980 that the term Post-traumatic Stress Disorder was coined.

Trauma is different for different people, and in most cases, it is personal – what shakes you may feel normal to someone else. Traumatic events that cause the onset of PTSD may be direct or indirect experiences.

Symptoms of PTSD

There are four main categories under which the symptoms of PTSD fall into: Intrusive, Negative Alternations in Cognition and Mood, Avoidance symptoms and lastly Alteration in Arousal and Reactivity

Intrusive symptoms

  • Recurrence of trauma-related episodes through nightmares
  • Involuntary and vivid flashbacks/ re-experience of the traumatic experiences
  • Distressing and unwanted memories of the traumatic event
  • Extreme emotional distress and noticeable physiological reactions to the reminders of the trauma

Negative Alterations in Cognition and mood

  • Endless negative expectations from the world
  • Total lapse in memory or feelings of blocking out parts of the trauma
  • Loss of interest in activities that were of significance to you in the past
  • Continuous blame on self or others for the trauma
  • Inability to feel happy or harbor positive emotions
  • Feeling detached from others as if they won’t understand you

Avoidance symptoms

  • Persistently avoiding memories and thoughts of the trauma
  • Persistently avoiding any external reminders of the trauma

Alterations in Arousal and Reactivity

  • Being more alert
  • Getting startled easily
  • Taking on a reckless and a self-destructive behavior
  • Becoming easily irritable and angry
  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Issues concentrating

There are overlapping symptoms which include impaired sleep, problems with concentration, depression, low energy, loss of interest and agitation. Some individuals turn to alcohol while others self-medicate.

Treating PTSD

Unfortunately, it is difficult to talk about or confront something that was shocking and utterly disturbing. This means that most veterans and civilians have a hard time getting help. However, seeking help is important.

Simple strategies for management of PTSD include:

  • Leading a healthy life – exercising and eating healthy meals while getting enough rest
  • Setting daily routines and identifying priorities then setting realistic objectives. Focus on your strengths
  • Asking for help, educating yourself about PTSD, and taking responsibility for your illness
  • Caring for your kids and partner and acknowledging unresolved issues

 

Some of the most effective therapies include:

  • Prolonged Exposure Therapy
  • Cognitive Processing Therapy

For symptom management, you will need to practice different techniques for anger management, anxiety management, as well as management of depression.

While there is a lot more needed for management of PTSD, knowledge of the condition is critical. It is also important to take medication in severe cases and avoid substance abuse.

Tags

  • Mental Health
  • PTSD in Veterans
  • Dealing with PTSD

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