Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that occurs in people who have experienced or witnessed traumatic events in the past. It leaves a person feeling “stuck” and emotionally shattered. PTSD is ubiquitous among Veterans. Up to 34.8% of veterans have a lifetime incidence of PTSD, and 90% of them reported a lifetime traumatic event.
The symptoms mostly experienced by Veterans having PTSD include the following:
- Reliving the event
- Persistent negative emotions
- Hypervigilance or hyperarousal
The slightest trigger of the disorder can cause harrowing memories to resurface and make the sufferer feel like they are experiencing the traumatic event once again. Veterans will often avoid situations that remind them of their trauma. Some veterans will deliberately avoid talking about the incident that affects them. Veterans experience PTSD and can be overwhelmed by negative feelings and have difficulty establishing trust, overcoming feelings of guilt, shame, and remorse.
Besides, Veterans experiencing hyperarousal will have the need to be always alert in any unfamiliar situations. It is hard for them to enjoy things and be happy again since they are still stuck with the horrendous event that has happened to them. Veterans with PTSD may also find it difficult to sleep, become impatient, short-tempered, reckless. They may abuse drugs or alcohol as a way to get through with the disorder.
Distressing as it may sound when reading the struggles of a person living with PTSD, it is also delightful to say that there’s always hope to wait for them. Veterans don’t have to feel defeated by the disorder in their whole life. There are several effective ways to help them feel empowered to stand on their own feet and take over their life that the trauma has taken away from them.
Interacting with other trauma survivors and veterans who can definitely relate to your struggles, exercising regularly, eating nutritious food, volunteering, avoiding drugs and alcohol, spending more time with loved ones, and practicing optimism are all helpful. Being mindful of the present instead of dwelling on the past and indulging in breathing exercises may also benefit Veterans. Spending time with the things that create joy and meaning in life can help take away feelings of distress. In this era, a number of online tools such as mobile applications may also help a Veteran manage the symptoms of the disorder.
Most importantly, seeking professional help is a significant step to overcome PTSD. Suffering because of PTSD is not necessary, and there are proper treatments that can help nowadays. PTSD does not have to get in the way of happiness and relationship with others. There is no shame in asking for help to cope with PTSD symptoms. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of courage and strength to regain control over a better life taken away by PTSD.