What Causes PTSD in Veterans?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects approximately eight percent of the population. Statistics suggest that 70% of adult Americans have experienced some form of trauma and that about 20% of them develop symptoms associated with PTSD. Some 44 million people suffer with post-traumatic stress disorder in some form or another.
While the causes of PTSD vary, witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event is described as the source of PTSD symptoms. While military members are not the only people to experience trauma that can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are often at a higher risk due to the nature of military service. Veterans are also at higher risk for experiencing depression and anxiety.
Strength and Stigma
Mental toughness and resilience are fundamental characteristics of military service. The ability to adapt and overcome are key to survival and success. Because of this, many who are suffering do so in silence, believing their struggles are a sign of weakness … and diagnosis, a badge of shame. Nothing could be further from the truth. But overcoming this stigma is often the first and a most formidable obstacle to getting healthy.
If you or a veteran you love is struggling with PTSD, help is available. With proper diagnosis and treatment, a healthy and fulfilling life beyond PTSD is possible.
While people cope with stressors differently, substance use and addiction rates are high among veterans. On the surface, substances seem like a way to cope with PTSD symptoms, feelings of stress and anxiety. Substances may be sought to help with insomnia or to turn off the thoughts. The reality, however, is that such self-medicating doesn’t treat the condition, but will rather exacerbate and compound difficulties.
PTSD may be caused by combat, abuse, emotional loss, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, serious accidents, assault, and many other traumatic situations.
The Symptoms of PTSD
Like many mental health issues, there is no single tell-tale sign of PTSD. Those who suffer from PTSD may find their symptoms include repeated, unwanted, and often intrusive memories of a traumatic event, bad dreams, feeling emotionally detached, intense guilt, worry, angry outbursts, and trying to avoid situations that are reminders of trauma.
You may be suffering from PTSD if you experience one or more of the following symptoms for a prolonged amount of time after a traumatic event:
- Recurring, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories of a traumatic event(s).
- Repeated dreams that feel related to the trauma.
- Any dissociative reaction that makes the sufferer feel that the trauma or aspects of it are happening again.
- Intense distress over exposure to things that are reminders of the trauma.
- Prolonged psychological distress at exposure to reminders of the trauma.
- Physiological (bodily) reactions to reminders of the event(s).
You may be suffering from PTSD if you experience two or more of the following:
- You can’t remember an important part of the trauma in ways that are unrelated to head injury, alcohol or drug use.
- Exaggerated, negative, and persistent ideas or expectations about yourself, others, or the world.
- A distorted sense of blame related to the cause or consequences of the traumatic events. The blame may be self-directed or outwardly directed.
- Persistent fear, anger, guilt, or other strong negative emotions.
- Reduced or lack of interest in activities or events you would otherwise take part in.
- Feeling detached from other people or situations.
- An inability to feel positive.
Diagnosis and Treatment
It takes a trained professional experienced with trauma to properly diagnose PTSD and recommend a helpful course of treatment. As everyone’s circumstances are unique, treating the symptoms of your PTSD requires individualized care.
The Honey Lake Difference
At Honey Lake Clinic, our experienced staff, licensed therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists understand that effective treatment for PTSD requires a multifaceted approach, involving healing of the mind, body, and spirit.