When a lot of people think of post-traumatic stress disorder, they think of scenes from movies where Vietnam vets or other army veterans get flashbacks and suffer the shock, depression and anxiety from witnessing, or being a part of, war and it's aftermaths. And it's true, PTSD is an unfortunately common result of being on the front lines. And now, in the past five or six years, we have seen instances of military PTSD increase rapidly.
But PTSD can, and does, happen to anyone. Survivors of childhood abuse, sexual assault, domestic abuse, a horrific accident or natural disaster or of any traumatic event that they either experienced or witnessed, can suffer from PTSD.
Difficulty maintaining or getting a job
Loss of appetite
Self-medication with alcohol or prescribed drugs
A person with PTSD can have any or all of these symptoms, and they can come and go in spurts. They may have a 'really good month' where they eat and sleep well, and perform well at work. They may then regress and become angry, withdrawn or isolated and the pattern continues if not treated. They may have flashbacks where they relive the incident (s) so vividly that to them, they have been traumatized all over again.
Therapy and treatment is available. A person suffering from PTSD will first need a proper assessment to ensure that they are, in fact, dealing with this particular disorder. They will probably get a referral for their regular doctor and will need to find a therapist specially trained in PTSD. Their family doctor should make sure a referral to a therapist is to one who understands the root causes and treatments of PTSD, in order for them to deal with the patient effectively and in order for the patient not to feel anxious that their feelings are not being understood or that they are somehow to blame or are at fault for not "getting over" their trauma. A person with PTSD will be anxious in general; it's vital that their therapy session don't add to their worries.
Here are some places a person can begin to look for help or information:
National Coalition Against Sexual Assault
National Alliance for Mentally Ill
National Mental Health Association
Military personnel should contact their benefits office or military doctor or may want to contact the following for further information:
Air Force Palace HART
American Love and Appreciation Fund (for veterans)
Army Wounded Warrior Program
Phone: 1-800-237-1336 or 1-800-833-6622
DHSD Deployment Helpline
Marine for Life
Military One Source
Military Severely Injured Center
Have you (or someone you know) dealt with PTSD?