Is the life after PTSD?

by Veteran Knowsley

The symptoms and treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder may be difficult to pinpoint. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and it doesn't just affect soldiers at war. Anyone who has experienced or witnessed a very distressing event outside of normal everyday experience can suffer from this psychological condition.

PTSD can occur after experiencing or witnessing traumatic events such as:

  1. military combat,
  2. serious road accidents,
  3. terrorist attacks,
  4. natural or man-made disasters,
  5. being held hostage,
  6. violent deaths,
  7. Violent personal assaults, such as sexual assault, mugging or robbery.

 Everybody has a different threshold for traumatic events, and some people are unable to seek help for PTSD, as they experience bouts of guilt or denial. Many may not want to seek help because they don’t want to be reminded of their trauma, or they experience extreme cases of avoidance. Sometimes military veterans won’t watch military events on television or look at combat pictures.

 Not everyone is susceptible to PTSD and similar life experiences won't produce the same response. This could be due to a number of factors including variations in personality. No doubt every individual is different but most PTSD information (however medical) simply swaps PTSD for Patronising Tips for (barely) Surviving Daily, like, er… ‘try not to get too stressed: relax!’  Or ‘just take these pills which won’t work but at least there isn’t any easy fix, though.  It’s a long hard journey where you just have to keep going because you cannot see the end and the end is further than you ever thought it could be but there is no turning back.  We all know that if we would have given up before we ever took that first step for it is a journey that is so far beyond your own well-known capacity as to seem impossible.

As a combat Vet, I have lived through events that most people can’t understand. Life in the war zone was very different from life at home. My daily routine could be interrupted by intensely stressful and chaotic events. I had to hide my feelings and reactions to stress. Now I have left the Army I thought that I was safe, I was having nightmares and memories of combat are popping into your head unexpectedly. I was anxious, angry, scared, guilty, or isolated. And the feelings won’t go away. The traumatic event can made me feel as if I was in danger again. These reminders are called triggers. Common triggers include anniversary dates; people or places associated with the trauma. They bring back memories, emotions, and physical reactions related to the trauma. In some cases, a trigger is obvious. The sound of thunder may recall gunfire.. Other times, the link is less clear. For example, a trigger could be the taste or smell of food that was common where you were deployed. Triggers even appear in my dreams, causing me to react while I was asleep.  

If you are aware of what triggers may cause an upsetting reaction, you’ll be in a better position to offer your support and help your loved one calm down.

Treatment can help prevent PTSD from developing after a trauma. A good social support system may also help protect against PTSD. The problem for most vets is it 13 or 14 years before they ask for help. Even then it might be 15 years plus since the events that were laying in wait. People with PTSD may also have problems

  1.        Alcohol or other substance abuse  

  2.          Depression                                                                                                                          

In most cases, these problems should be treated before trying therapy. Medicines that act on the nervous system can help reduce anxiety and other symptoms of PTSD. Antidepressants, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can be effective in treating PTSD

For most people, however, these symptoms are short-lived. They may last for several days or even weeks, but they gradually lift. But if you have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the symptoms don’t decrease. You don’t feel a little better each day. In fact, you may start to feel worse. PTSD affects up to 30% of people who experience a traumatic event. It affects around 5% of men and 10% of women at some point during their life, and can occur at any age, including during childhood. Approximately 40% of people with PTSD develop the condition after someone close to them suddenly dies.

Why Should I Seek Help for PTSD?

Early treatment is better. Symptoms of PTSD may get worse. Dealing with them now might help stop them from getting worse in the future. Finding out more about what treatments work, where to look for help, and what kind of questions to ask can make it easier to get help and lead to better outcomes.

 PTSD symptoms can change family life.

PTSD symptoms can get in the way of your family life. You may find that you pull away from loved ones, are not able to get along with people, or that you are angry or even violent. Getting help for your PTSD can help improve your family life.

PTSD can be related to other health problems. 

 PTSD symptoms can worsen physical health problems. For example, a few studies have shown a relationship between PTSD and heart trouble. By getting help for your PTSD you could also improve your physical health.

Psychological Treatment of PTSD in adults involves a number of phases, including:

  1. Education and information
  2. Learning how to manage anxiety, anger and depression
  3. Exposure therapy where the sufferer confronts feared situations and memories
  4. Cognitive therapy- where unhelpful, irrational thoughts and beliefs are replaced with more rational ones.
  5. Explore your thoughts and feelings about the trauma
  6. Work through feelings of guilt, self-blame, and mistrust
  7. Learn how to cope with and control intrusive memories
  8. Address problems PTSD has caused in your life and relationships

Recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a gradual, ongoing processing. Healing doesn’t happen overnight, nor do the memories of the trauma ever disappear completely. This can make life seem difficult at times. But there are many things you can do to cope with residual symptoms and reduce your anxiety and fear.  Overcoming your sense of helplessness is key to overcoming post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Trauma leaves you feeling powerless and vulnerable. It’s important to remind yourself that you have strengths and coping skills that can get you through tough times.

One of the best ways to reclaim your sense of power is by helping others: volunteer your time, give blood, and reach out to a friend in need, taking positive action directly challenges the sense of helplessness that contributes to trauma. If a loved one has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it’s essential that you take care of yourself and get extra support. PTSD can take a heavy toll on the family if you let it. It can be hard to understand why your loved one won’t open up to you – why he or she is less affectionate and more volatile. The symptoms of PTSD can also result in job loss, substance abuse, and other stressful problems.

If you are aware of what triggers may cause an upsetting reaction, you’ll be in a better position to offer your support and help your loved one calm down. It is very difficult for people with PTSD to talk about their traumatic experiences. For some, it can even make things worse. Never try to force your loved one to open up. Let the person know, however, that you’re there when and if he or she wants to talk.

While there are a number of treatments in existence for PTSD and other anxiety disorders, medication and therapy are currently the only medically recognized forms of treatment. Anything else may be ineffective or could even cause more harm to a PTSD sufferer.

Handling PTSD on your own is not recommended, as self-diagnosis and any type of self-treatment without consulting a doctor can be harmful.

Comments

I have been med discharged from the british army due to ptsd. I have overcome the stress and strain of this health problem, and want to get back into work within the offshore industry as a medic, which was my previous job. I am worried that i will be penalised by a potential employer upon my pre employment medical, due to my previous experiences in hostile environments. Please advise.
I'm intrigued as to how you got on mate; Im the same, But didn't have prior experience, its just I'm a good medic, and want to carry on with it after the army..I'll be MD'd in May...
I know you have hear it before . Plan now write to RBL let then know about you. When you on leave next if you know were your going to live. Go to your local Doctor. Let them know your leaving the Army in May . Let them know what your medical problems are. Also contact Combat Stress they may have a out reach clinic in your area. If you get those points in place the road will be a little less bumpy. Use your skills you have got to make becoming a civvy a little easier. It won't be easy but pre prep planning etc take care.
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I'm shocked that I found this info so ealisy.
I had suffered from PTSD from being a victim of violence from my ex. EMDR worked for me. I didn't think it would after having therapy and still getting the experience. EMDR was a hard process but it was well worth it if you want to get better. I do occasionally have flashback but know how to deal with it.
PTSD can be overcome. I lived with it for more than 14 years. Today I still suffer from a related psychological handicap, however the PTSD it self, the mental part of it - is gone. It can be overcome with, don't belief people who claim it cannot. However, you really have to work with it and talk to other people about it. The good part of having healed from ptsd is that you don't have the blur anymore, clouding your judgement and perception in general. No more problems being around other people, and no more flashbacks. The bad part is that you have to relearn a lot of social skills. Also, knowing that you lost all these years of your life is a mental drainer.
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