United States Department of Veterans Affairs

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a very important topic because it can affect many people now, and with todays’ society, can be a very touchy but interesting topic. One out of every three troops has been diagnosed with PTSD and less than 40% have found or looked for help. 1 out of 5 active duty soldiers try to commit suicide every day (PTSD Foundation of America). In the mid 1970’s the term was added to the DSM III (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

It was not until 1980 that the term PTSD was formally recognized. In 1987, a revised edition (DSM III-R) was released with a new diagnostic criteria which made a huge impact for our veterans and their diagnosis (Unknown). In 2007, PTSD was at its highest for diagnosis in the military. Experts think that PTSD occurs in about 11-20 veterans out of 100 who served in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). (U. S. Department of Veteran Affairs).

PTSD is a very misunderstood and ignored condition that affects many military veterans returning from war and causes very stressful situations for their families and the people around them who need to be provided with more education and services to help them with the healing process after returning home. Post- traumatic stress disorder is caused by an exposure to very stressful events or series of events. These events are usually very harmful to one or others and are normally very sudden causing the person not to have time to prep themselves for it (Shiraldi Ph. D. ).

The symptoms almost make complete sense once you get an understanding of it. Some signs of PTSD can be easily seen by bystanders others are more overlooked. A simple sign of post- traumatic stress disorder is an increased anxiety level. It is a typical stress response for many people. Also a way to notice PTSD is abuse. Abuse comes in many forms. Physical abuse is trying hurt oneself or others on purpose or not on purpose. There is also alcohol abuse and narcotic abuse. This is the abuse of alcoholic drinks, drugs, and prescription medication. There is also mental abuse.

This abuse is very different because the person is mentally putting themselves down with the “what if’s” and negative thoughts and that’s what can hurt the most. A very noticeable sign is being triggered by something. These triggers could be sights, sounds, smells, tastes, pain, significant dates or seasons, stress, events, emotions, thoughts, behaviors, out of the blue events, or a combination of things (Shiraldi Ph. D. ). These triggers could set them off and make them stress or have certain flashbacks that could severely affect them. A silent symptom of post- traumatic stress disorder is depression.

People can get into this down streak and not be able to get out of it. The signs and symptoms of PTSD are very similar. They can lead them down a very dark road for the person experiencing them. Anxiety is another symptom of PTSD; it may show as excessive worry to tension. Impulsive behaviors would be noticeable by loved ones or co-workers, examples would be shopping sprees, sudden vacations. Other symptoms that might be noticeable are chronic pain (headaches, painful joints), hypertension, skin problems, heavy limbs, fainting and tingling body parts. The most difficult symptom for most is a complete change in personality.

When these symptoms are recognized early, it is helpful in the diagnosis and recovery (Fischer). The diagnosis of PTSD is very hard because it can sometimes be misunderstood for something else. It helps to a diagnosis of PTSD when one knows of the trauma that took place. The person may have been exposed to a stressor, had their life disrupted or had a re-experiencing of a traumatic event. Awareness is the key because you should always be aware of what is happening around you and to know when to get help. The criterion for diagnosing PTSD has changed over the years. Recent changes have included PTSD as an anxiety disorder.

The diagnosis for PTSD is essential in receiving the proper treatment and education as soon as possible to begin the healing process. The treatment of PTSD is sometimes very difficult and sometimes almost seeming impossible for someone experiencing the symptoms of PTSD. All people have different signs and symptom of PTSD and that can cause fear of people not knowing they are suffering from PTSD and may look at them as crazy. They have an enormous fear sometimes of people not knowing their thoughts or being able to understand them. In treatment there are many trained therapists and counselors that can help.

Veterans are also taught to keep themself in control and learn to trust again in order to heal. They also need to be willing to get treatment and be willing to let it all go. There are many forms of treatment; they can get both mental health and therapeutic help. There are also survivor groups to help with them with their situation. There are also self- help treatment plans that involve them managing their PTSD on their own with little guidance. During their treatment they will need support. The veteran will need a strong support system surrounding them during their recovery.

Their support system may include friends, family, therapists, doctors and anyone important to them. These people are going to be important in cheering them on to get better and showing them the positives to life instead of the negatives. The self- healing portion is very important also because it involves the veteran as a person finding themselves again. In self- healing they learn to recover and get better on their own. It is very important to do this because it is all about them and their recovery.

There are seven (7) principles of healing that will greatly impact ones healing process (Shiraldi Ph.D. ). In self-healing there are approaches in helping with transforming the feelings a person might have (Shiraldi Ph. D. ). Self-healing can be done with family or alone. Some self-healing may be experienced by practicing yoga, meditation and exercise (Paulson). Some veterans have chosen to take on old hobbies, find old friends and connect with other veterans. Positive outlook into self-healing, self-love and self-care can also be practical and sensible in the process of recovery from PTSD. The process of PTSD is sometimes very long for some, others it is a quick process.

The process starts at the traumatic event. For our veterans these events are very stressful and harmful. Then after the event they have a spiral downfall into PTSD. Once they have a diagnosis of PTSD, the ups and downs of healing are tough on all involved. The treatment and self-healing will lead them into recovery, some sooner than others. In the recovery, there may be a few struggles and after that they have nothing but growth. It all depends on the type of person you are and the experience you went through, but the process is very important for everyone with PTSD.

The early diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder goes back to the civil war. It was not called PTSD then but it had similar symptoms as it does today. There were many men that struggled to get a diagnosis because of the people being unaware of it. During the WWI, it was known as combat neurosis or shell shock. During the WWII, it was known as battle fatigue or operational fatigue. Some other names for it were war neurosis, irritable heart and soldiers’ heart. Many people told these soldiers with this condition to “Go home and get over it”. It was very tough being a soldier or combat soldier back then (Paulson).

They were faced with traumatic stressors everyday but in training they were trained to face those and move on without feeling anything. Well, one can only do that until they break. That break can be very hard for them and sometimes they do not have anyone to support them back then. About one of 4 individuals exposed to a stressor back then got PTSD. In 2005, the U. S. national center for PTSD reported that about 30% of combat veterans have suffered from PTSD (U. S. Department of Veteran Affairs). The past treatment of PTSD is very different from now. Back then things were more strict and hidden and less open.

So when a soldier came out about the problem it was not handled delicately. He was normally just ignored and was expected to recover on his own. There was very little help occasionally when they were home they could get therapeutic help but sometimes that was not offered or they did not have the money. There were medications to help but they were quite costly for that time period. Family is very important in the healing process and it is very hard to go through without a family that supports you. In the family they also may struggle with secondary PTSD (Stocker). Secondary PTSD is felt by the witness or bystander.

The most common thing felt from secondary PTSD is anxiety. Anxiety is completely understandable to go through. Having to watch someone go through a traumatic event is awful. They also may experience depression during this time. Depression is also very common in secondary PTSD. The most common treatment for secondary PTSD is medications to control the symptoms. Also, seeing a therapist help to relive it may be helpful for some. Secondary PTSD is just as important as regular PTSD and needs to be diagnosed and treated. They both have the same signs and symptoms; it just depends on the person.

The support from the family is very important in recovery. The family needs to be supporting them at all times. Even the littlest things mean the most to the person struggling. It will be hard for the family also at times to see their loved one go through this but they have to be strong for them. The support is one of the most necessary things a person needs to get better. The need to be shown the brightness in their lives and how it good it is now and that it is ok to let go of the past. The support of a family might be physical or emotional but always must remain positive.

A positive support system is needed for both the family and the PTSD sufferer to help them survive the struggles of recovery. The family also might struggle through the different ways of handling the pain. The family might be put at risk, as the person suffering might be abusive, dangerous, or just not good to be around. Sometimes it is easy for the family to support them through this but sometimes it may not be due to the risk of it. They might not be able to handle the pressure and stress from the recovery process. There may become a moment when the family is forced to make this decision of staying around them or leaving.

It might be to the point the ailing person may have put the family at risk of harm or have put too much on them emotionally and mentally. Some people cannot take this and are forced to leave. This is the best choice for them but sometimes not for the person suffering. It is one of the hardest decisions to make especially when you have exhausted all your resources and have nothing left to do and nothing seems to ever get better. The family could also develop depression or other symptoms from being involved with a person with PTSD. The ailing person may have proposed harm to his or her family and have forced them out.

Sometimes people are forced to do what is best for themselves and their children. It is a very tricky situation to be put in. You may also have to leave because you may be starting to get down and have thoughts of hurting themselves or others. A parent must also put their children first, if there are children to be considered, is this type of environment the best for them. The harm and pain of PTSD is felt everywhere in the victim and the family. Some of the symptoms of PTSD may not have been diagnosed properly and those may be hurting the family the most.

Many of the symptoms and signs of PTSD are overlooked because of our society today. When veterans come back from war sometimes the symptoms are not as noticeable. The symptoms of PTSD may not be seen until the veteran is in a social environment away from the military environment. The symptoms of PTSD are misdiagnosed and over-looked due to lack of knowledge about the trauma or the symptoms are not severe. The diagnosis criterion has been changed several times over the years which also have contributed to the symptoms of PTSD being over-looked in our veterans.

In years to come the symptoms and criteria are being re-evaluated for our veterans and the name might be changed to an injury. When the name changes the veterans are hopeful they will acquire more services. There are services available to the veterans to help them over-come PTSD. The veteran’s hospitals offer cognitive therapy, physical therapy and out-patient therapy programs. There are programs starting up across the U. S. offering service dogs for veterans with PTSD, ex. Soldiers Best Friend. There are a number of privately funded resources that are available to soldiers upon their return.

There are some governmental and non-governmental resources for veterans and their families that have informational brochures on PTSD. Many resources that provide services can help a veteran obtain education information for the families (Paulson). PTSD is a very misunderstood and ignored condition that affects many military veterans returning from war and causes very stressful situations for their families and the people around them who need to be provided with more education and services to help them with the healing process after returning home.

Educating the family of someone with PTSD is important. The family and/or support of the patient suffering PTSD need the education to help in the recovery of PTSD. There are several educational resources at your local veteran’s office. The government website for veteran affairs offers many educational points. Many religious groups such as, Coming Home Collaborative or the American Legion, are always helpful in providing education with veterans (Paulson). Do you know a veteran recovering from PTSD? Works Cited: Andreasen, Nancy. Brainline. 2011. Weta. . Fischer, Hannah. Corporate Research Service.

19 February 2014. . Paulson, Daryl S & Krippner, Stanley. “Haunted by Combat. ” Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc, 2007. PTSD Foundation of America. PTSD Foundation of America. n. d. . Shiraldi Ph. D. , Glenn R. “The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook – second edition. ” New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009. Stocker, Susan Rau. “Many Faces of PTSD. ” Holy Macro! Books, 2010. U. S. Department of Veteran Affairs. PTSD: National Center for PTSD. 30 January 2014. . “U. S. Military Casualty Statistics: OND, OIF, and OEF. ” n. d. Unknown. Cyber Sarge’s. n. d. .

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