Sometimes saying thank you doesn’t feel like enough. So this Veteran’s Day I’d like to also be of service. Approximately 11-20% of veterans suffer from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and many more experiencing other mental health issues. While PTSD is becoming more commonly talked about, many still don’t know much about it and many suffer in silence.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD requires exposure to a traumatic event. Specifically for veterans this includes direct exposure to the violence of war, assault unrelated to war, or other traumatic event, as well as indirect exposure through repetitive hearing about the event from someone who directly experienced it or witnessing its aftermath (such as first responders). Symptoms include intrusion (The event is replayed in the form of memories, nightmares, or flashbacks and causes significant distress.), avoidance of trauma-related reminders, negative thoughts and low mood (this symptom is similar to that of depression for anyone), difficulties with arousal and reactivity (Irritable, aggressive, self-destructive and/or reckless behavior, hpervigilance, exaggerated startle response, difficulties with concentration, and sleep disturbance), and cause significant disturbance to one’s life for at least one month.
Now that we got through the sucky part here’s where I provide some hope. Since the reaction to veteran’s challenges post service have changed from “tough it out” to “asking for help shows strength” there are more resources than ever. Here are a few that I hope can be of help for either yourself or a loved one:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Prolonged Exposure (PE), Somatic Therapy (ST), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) have all been supported by scientific evidence to be effective in alleviating PTSD symptoms. Seek out a therapist who has extensive training in these therapies, as well as experience working with trauma and/or veterans.
There are a number of medications that are prescribed to help with PTSD symptoms, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) for depression and anxiety and Prazosin for reducing nightmares. Again, seek out a psychiatrist who has experience in treating trauma and veterans.
I know this organization has gotten a lot of flack recently but as the nation's largest integrated health care system it is still at the forefront of treatment of PTSD and other health issues veterans experience.
A non-profit organization dedicated to mentoring our combat veterans and their families with post traumatic stress. They offer a number of services.
This organization’s vision is to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation's history. They offer a Combat Stress Recovery Program amongst their many other services.
Their mission is to provide resources and dogs of service to veterans and those who are disabled in order to increase their quality of life. And dogs have been shown to be very helpful in lessening PTSD symptoms.
This a one stop shop to many, many more resources that may be helpful to anyone suffering from PTSD.
Please also contact me if I can be of help in any way. And for those who are not veterans or who are and lucky enough to not suffer from PTSD please pass this on to anyone you love who may be. That is how we can best honor those who have helped us.