PTSD in Military
From the PTSD Facts.net home page
Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that is triggered by exposure
to a traumatic event in which severe physical harm was either threatened or occurred.
It’s natural to feel afraid during a traumatic event. However, in the case of PTSD,
this intense feeling of fear and anxiety remains long after the ordeal.
Traumatic events that can trigger PTSD include:
Violent personal assaults.
PTSD is a serious condition, and it is particularly common among members of the
military and combat veterans. If left untreated, PTSD in military veterans can
lead to other mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Some people with
PTSD end up dependent on drugs or alcohol, engage in self-destructive behaviors
or even commit suicide.
PSTD Military Relationship
The PTSD/military relationship has been noted since the Civil War — when it was called
DaCosta’s Syndrome — though PTSD was not considered a separate diagnosis until 1980.
Due to combat and other intense situations that military personnel experience, PTSD
is very common among military veterans. For example, a study published in the New
England Journal of Medicine in 2006 found that 16 percent of soldiers returning
from Iraq suffered from mental health problems, most commonly PTSD.
Scientists first began studying and researching PTSD in depth after the Vietnam War.
Since then, signs of PTSD have been identified in surviving military from World War
II, the Korean War and the Iraq War. Personnel deployed in United Nations peacekeeping
forces as well as members of armed forces from other countries also experience PTSD.
Military PTSD Statistics
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 3.5 percent of American
adults (roughly 7.7 million) experience PTSD in any given year. Military PTSD statistics
are even higher — 19 percent of Vietnam veterans were diagnosed with PTSD after the war.
Several factors increase the risk of a military veteran experiencing PTSD. These risk
Close proximity to the traumatic event
Lack of support after the event
More intense traumas
Strong reactions at the time of the ordeal.
Military PTSD Symptoms
Military PTSD symptoms are threefold. First, the veteran experiences intrusive memories.
These memories usually involve vivid flashbacks or nightmares, causing the person to
relive the traumatic event over and over again. These flashbacks are sometimes caused
by audio or visual triggers. For example, the sound of a car backfiring may resemble
the sound of a gunshot.
Second, people with PTSD will usually go out of their way to avoid anxiety-inducing
situations. They may refuse to think about or discuss the traumatic event. A feeling
of emotional numbness is part of this avoidance defense mechanism.
The last group of PTSD symptoms relate to a feeling of hyper-arousal. These symptoms
Always being on the alert for danger
Constantly worrying about safety
Irritability and anger.
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