Veterans are particularly susceptible to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, otherwise known as PTSD. It affects former servicemen to a far greater degree than the general population, largely due to their exposure to combat. Combined with this is an erroneous belief that those that suffer from the disorder are emotionally weak or other nonsense. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. Unfortunately, because there is a stigma associated with psychiatric disorders, many individuals who would benefit from help, choose not to seek it out. The Veteran’s Medical Center in California has successfully helped many individuals heal and lead healthy, happy, productive lives in spite of grappling with PTSD.
Traumatic Experiences Affect All People
PTSD is generally characterized by persistent disruption to one’s wellbeing. In other words, while everyone is affected by the impact of a major trauma like the sorts that people in combat are exposed to, some people are affected in a way that disrupts their ability to carry on their lives, maintain healthy relationships, and hold jobs for significant periods of time. They may become agitated or angry because of a stimuli, or they may have difficulty sleeping, which makes it difficult to meet deadlines or be at work on time. In addition, their sleep may be trouble to the point where they find it difficult to sleep through the entire night.
When the experiences don’t go away after a period or time and persist indefinitely, a diagnosis of PTSD is made. Therein lies the only really difference between someone who is dealing with trauma and someone who is diagnosed with PTSD.
How is PTSD Treated?
PTSD is treated using a number of therapies. Those therapies generally include cognitive behavioral therapy, which is aimed at making sense of the trauma and reframing it. In addition, EMDR is aimed at helping your brain process the trauma, while using a therapeutic technique that involves repetitive visual stimuli or repetitive sound stimuli. Another type of therapy is known as Prolonged Exposure (PE). It involves immersing yourself in the trauma, talking about the things that trigger it, and then doing many of the things that you have not done since experiencing the trauma.
For those that have experienced trauma from armed conflict, Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET) is an effective method. It involves putting your lived experiences into a cogent narrative (or story) through the beginning, the middle, and the end. Another format may involving doing this in writing.
In most instances, many of these therapies may be employed with others as the situation indicates. For instance, a patient may learn to manage feelings of anxiety by focusing on their surroundings and controlling their breathing. In most instances, there will a period when medication is also useful.