2016 National Veterans Day: Helping veterans fight back PTSD

2016 National Veterans Day: Helping veterans fight back PTSD

To honor America’s veterans for their sacrifice and willingness to serve, November 11 is celebrated every year as the National Veterans Day. The day gives the people of the United States an opportunity to pay tribute to all those brave men and women who unselfishly left behind their friends and family to serve their country.

Our heroes continue to fight the battles outside, but there is a battle within that is yet to be won. It’s their battle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental condition that develops after experiencing a shocking or a traumatic event.

The disorder does not just affect people in the active services or war veterans, it equally affects their friends and families. As per the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), PTSD symptoms sometimes are not seen even after months or years of returning from the services. And this serves as a major problem for people in the armed services returning home. Though PTSD symptoms differ from one person to another, individuals suffering from the PTSD experience symptoms that are often disturbing and distressing. These symptoms, if left untreated, can make it difficult for military veterans to adapt to a civilian life.

Another cause of worry for veterans suffering from PTSD is facing trigger events that can aggravate the symptoms. As per Dr. Lorraine Braswell, director psychologist of trauma recovery at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center, Augusta, Georgia, many things can trigger PTSD symptoms for veterans. Dr. Braswell said that people get troubled by nightmares and get anxious thoughts about imminent danger all the time. The biggest challenge in treating PTSD is acceptance of the condition and asking for assistance.

According to experts, veterans experiencing PTSD symptoms can embark on their path to recovery by talking to their friends, families, war buddies, doctors, hospitals, and even the VA. There are a variety of hotlines and non-profit organizations that are willing to help war veterans.

Effective therapies for fighting PTSD

The stigma attached to mental illness makes it hard for veterans to seek help for their condition. They fear that their condition might be considered a sign of weakness. These factors often prevent veterans from sharing their feelings. They keep their feelings to themselves and bottled-up emotions can give way to other complications. Research has shown that talking with a therapist can help veterans feel better.

According to Dr. Stephanie Erickson from the Danville VA’s PTSD Clinic, medications are often used in treating PTSD symptoms, but they do not solve the root problem associated with the disorder. As the underlying issue of PTSD is trauma, psychotherapy should ideally be the first step in PTSD treatment. A host of private, government and non-profit organizations offer counseling services and therapies for veterans working to overcome trauma.

One such therapy is the cognitive behavioral therapy(CBT) where the therapist works with veterans and helps them change their thoughts about trauma and its aftermath. The therapy helps a veteran recognize his or her disturbing thoughts and replace them with less upsetting and more real ones.

The VA offers two forms of CBT to veterans with PTSD – prolonged exposure (PE) therapy and cognitive processing therapy (CPT). The goal of the exposure therapy is to have less fear of one’s memories. As people learn to fear their thoughts and situations that remind them of traumatic events, the therapy involves veterans talking repeatedly with their therapists and learning to control their thoughts.

Another form of therapy known to assist veterans in dealing with PTSD symptoms is the eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. It can help veterans change the way they react to memories of their trauma.

PTSD is treatable

Battling memory of past events can be hard, but it is important to know that PTSD is treatable. Though it can be difficult to talk about past traumatic events, it is important to know that discussion of such events with a therapist can be the first step in treating PTSD.

If you know a military veteran who is dealing with PTSD symptoms, stress or any other kind of mental illness, contact Sovereign Health to know about our mental health centers in California. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 or chat online with our counselors to get more information about our mental health facilities in California.

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