Hope and Help for Veterans with PTSD
Shell shock. Battle fatigue. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Whatever you call it, from whichever conflict or war, PTSD is a very real issue for hundreds of thousands of veterans and service members on active duty.
PTSD can occur without underlying physical injuries. But when a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) occurs (even a mild, temporary one), the likelihood of a veteran also experiencing PTSD increases. Although true statistics may never be accurately achieved due to underreporting, PTSD among veterans is approximated at 25% by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for PTSD.
What are the Symptoms of PTSD?
Everyone has occasional bad days or gets snippy with loved ones. Everyone has moments of unexplained sadness. But PTSD is entirely different! If you experience the following ongoing symptoms for months, particularly following deployment, you may have PTSD:
- Recurring nightmares or flashbacks that cause you to feel you are back in the midst of the traumatic experience.
- Feeling emotionally cut off or distant from loved ones.
- Difficulty connecting with others.
- Easily and inexplicably irritated or angry. (This may include outbursts.)
- Always on guard, unable to step back, unable to be present.
- Jumpy, easily startled.
- Difficulty sleeping, concentrating or staying on task, especially simple, daily tasks.
Isn’t This Just My “New Normal?”
Many veterans with TBIs or PTSD assume their challenges are permanent and unchangeable. Because of this misconception, many don’t ask for help. Some won’t even acknowledge or recognize the changes and challenges, trying to ignore the struggles. Others try to self-medicate through drugs or alcohol. Most often, friends and family see the difference. They want to help, but often feel powerless or helpless.
If you are a veteran struggling with suspected PTSD, there is help and there is hope! The first step is acknowledging the trauma, the change in your cognitive abilities or personality, and asking for help. You don’t have to live like this. And you are not alone!
Treatment and Therapy Options
Fortunately, there are several options that can help veterans reclaim control of their cognitive and functional abilities, as well as re-establish and maintain healthy relationships.
First and foremost, you are not in this battle alone. You didn’t go to combat alone. And you are not left alone to defend against the struggles in your mind. There is strength and comfort in numbers.
Talk to your primary care physician about all of your symptoms, from focus and cognitive and daily challenges to the emotional hardships.
Treatment for cognitive rehabilitation may include:
- Computerized, brain-training programs. A new study performed across five military and veteran hospitals found these specialty computer “games” increased cognitive function by 24 percent!
- Cognitive processing therapy
- Supplements specially designed for brain and memory health
Support for emotional and relational connections is also available. This may include:
- Talk therapy. This can be one-on-one with a trained and licensed psychotherapist (psychologist, psychiatrist or counselor) or could be a support group for veterans guided by a trained professional.
- Medication. Trusting your medical professionals with your mental health can be a difficult thing. But finding the right medicine at the right dosage to help you regain your bearings can be valuable and much healthier than self-medication.
We’ve Got Your Six.
Please know, asking for help and acknowledging an issue is a sign of strength, not weakness. And a BIPRI, we’ve always got your six. To learn more about how we can assist you, click on the online chat feature in the bottom right corner or call us at (888) 549-5519.