SAN DIEGO, April 25, 2017 — Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder — PTSD — is a human response that can result from experiencing a highly traumatic event. Post-traumatic stress disorder has many root causes including genetic predisposition, hormones and temperament, sexual assault, physical attack, a life-threatening event, a natural disaster, an accident or other life-altering events.
Many members of the military experience PTSD, especially those who engaged in active combat. It can go completely undetected, and can occur at any time if left untreated.
Reports from the National Vietnam Veteran’s Study in the 1980s indicated that 15% of male Veterans had PTSD at the time of the study. During a follow-up study conducted in 2003, it was discovered that 4 out of 5 Vietnam-era Veterans exhibited PTSD symptoms 20-25 years later.
A 2013 Congressional analysis entitled “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Other Mental Health Problems in the Military: Oversight Issues for Congress” observed that “the 2009 post-traumatic stress disorder incidence rate of 9.2 per 1,000 person-years and a prevalence rate of 1.9% among all service members of the active component…”
The report indicated that those branches of the military with the highest rates of PTSD are the Army and the Marines, likely due to higher incidents of direct combat and other traumatic exposures than actions or events experienced by those serving in the Air Force or Navy.
A Veteran’s Administration study sourced by the Congressional research report estimated that 18% to 20% military personnel engaging in combat while in Iraq or Afghanistan were likely to have PTSD.
The Mayo Clinic offers specific criteria for evaluating the presence of PTSD:
- Experience of a traumatic event
- Witnessing another person experiencing a traumatic event
- Discovering a significant other was threatened by a traumatic event
- Repeated exposure to graphic details of a traumatic event (for example, a first-responder)
Reliving a traumatic event and experiencing it longer than a few days or weeks could also be indicative of PTSD, especially if the emotions are intense and flashbacks of the event persist.
Common symptoms experienced by those afflicted with PTSD and possibly observable by family or friends may include:
- Substance abuse
- Feelings of mistrust
- Suicidal thoughts
Seeking help for PTSD?
For additional information about the signs and symptoms of PTSD, consult the related entry at Helpguide.org.
The Military Crisis Line is an excellent resource for active or retired service persons to access resources, referrals and help for themselves and their families:
- In the U.S.: 1-800-273-8255, Press 1
- In Europe: 00800 1273 8255 or DSN 118*
- In Korea: 0808 555 118 or DSN 118
The ability to detect PTSD early and seek treatment options from qualified health care practitioners who have a specialty in treating PTSD is critical in the outcome and quality of life of affected veterans and their families. The National Center for PTSD provides resources for seeking treatment while offering information about additional available support.
United States Veterans deserve the highest respect and utmost consideration. By choosing to place themselves in harm’s way while in defense of this Country, they have earned the right to compassion, support and treatments to enable them to reenter civilian life as physically healthy, emotionally sound and spiritually whole people.
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