Today I’m going to talk about PTSD in the military. Post-traumatic stress disorder commonly called PTSD is an anxiety disorder, an illness that people may develop months after a traumatic event. It makes you feel stressed out and fearful, even after the threat of danger is gone. It affects your life and the people around you. It can occur after experiencing or witnessing a life threatening event, including combat, a terrorist attack like 9-11, personal assault or abuse, earthquake, tsunami, tornado, or other natural disaster, serious auto or plane accidents, or the sudden death of a loved one.
About 30 percent of the men and women who have spent time in war zones have experienced PTSD. 1/5 soldiers who have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan report having symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, or major depression. It’s not uncommon for someone with PTSD to develop other mental health problems during or after deployment, including, depression, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, drug use, and other anxiety disorders. Men who are exposed to high levels of combat are significantly more likely to experience acute stress and symptoms of PTSD. Letters and e-mail to a deployed male spouse may protect him from developing PTSD symptoms. Women in the military are at high risk for exposure to traumatic events, especially during war. They’re also at greater risk of exposure to sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape then men.
A recent study of children with a parent deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan, showed elevations in anxiety and depression, linked to length of deployment and the psychological stress of the parent at home. Their symptoms usually persist after the deployed parent comes home. If you are a veteran and you feel that you can’t take it anymore or feel suicidal please call 911. In a given year 7.7 million adults or 3.5 percent of the US population can have PTSD. Research shows that men are more vulnerable to PTSD between the ages of 41-45, women between the ages of 51-55. Women are more likely to be affected then men.
PTSD can develop at any age, including during early childhood. Most people react to stress after a trauma but if your reactions don’t go away over time, or disrupt your life, it may indicate PTSD. 3 main types of symptoms characterize this illness, re-experiencing a trauma through intrusive distressing recollections of the event, flashbacks and nightmares, emotional numbness, and avoidance of places, people, and activities that are reminders of the trauma, increased arousal such as difficulty sleeping and concentrating, feeling jumpy, and being easily irritated or angered. PTSD is diagnosed after a person experiences symptoms for at least one month following a traumatic event. Sometimes symptoms don’t occur until several months or even years afterwards. If you are suffering from these kinds of symptoms, talk to your doctor about treatment. If you have loved ones who have been exposed to combat or other trauma and are having these kinds of symptoms, encourage them to seek help. You can find helpful tips and more resources online.