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PTSD

PTSD by Erick Lownsberry MSG, USA (Ret), LPC/A

Veterans Day, November 11, honors all those who have served in an American war. It began as Armistice Day in 1919 on the first anniversary of the cessation of hostilities of World War I. Now, 100 years later, we still struggle with the impact of war not only on our veterans, but on their families. PTSD affects 12% of Gulf War Veterans each year and about 15% of Vietnam Veterans. Percentages range as high as 11 to 20 percent for Veterans of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Known as shell shock after WWI, PTSD was called soldier’s heart or irritable heart after the Civil War. People with PTSD may be trapped in a cycle of repeatedly reliving a trauma in the form of nightmares or other sleep problems and/or disturbing recollections during the day. They may feel detached, numb, or be easily startled. A person suffering from PTSD may also lose interest in things they used to enjoy. They may have trouble feeling affection and be prone to irritability, aggression, or even violence. In addition, he or she may avoid certain places or situations in an effort to avoid triggering distressful memories and emotional reactions. Therapy can help PTSD sufferers regain self-esteem which can lead to a sense of calm.

PTSD affects more than those suffering from it. It also impacts their families. Family may feel hurt, alienated, or discouraged because their loved one has not overcome the effects of the trauma. They frequently devote themselves totally to their veteran and, in the process, neglect their own needs. It is vitally important for family members to take care of themselves both for their own good as well as their veteran’s. Therapy can help family members develop better coping skills as they face the symptoms with their veterans.

PTSD affects people differently, so a treatment that works for one person may not work for another. It is important for anyone with PTSD to seek treatment. It helps.

References:
National Conference of State Legislatures, VA.gov, Mayoclinic.org, DSM5, maketheconnection.net/whats-new/ptsd-statistics

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