Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
You’re having nightmares and flashbacks. Certain sounds and smells set you off. Maybe you get nervous in crowds, constantly scanning for threats. Or maybe your mood swings all over the place. Sometimes, you lash out. You struggle to remember everyday things, to concentrate. You feel cut off.
At first, just driving down the highway was rough on the nerves, one Iraq vet remembers. He would scan each overpass and any person on the roadside for threats. “That doesn’t switch off when you return home. You’re banging away on all four cylinders.”
These and other symptoms are usually part of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. For some vets, the warning signs come quickly after deployment. Others go years before they surface.
Think about it. In combat you endured more than most people can imagine. You went days, if not weeks and months, on little sleep, sometimes little food and lots of stress. Your survival and your buddies’ survival depended on being alert, ever-vigilant. You were on-point 24/7. You may have survived a firefight or a bombing that shook you up in ways you can’t understand. PTSD is an echo of all that – an echo that you can’t shake alone.
The good news is that PTSD is treatable. Unlike years ago when little was known about the injury, there are many specialists and services available now. Many vets have recovered from PTSD and become stronger for the experience.
What are the symptoms of PTSD? Some common symptoms of PTSD include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lack of interest/apathy
- Feelings of detachment
- Loss of appetite
- Exaggerated startle response
- Sleep disturbances (lack of sleep, oversleeping)
Learn more about PTSD from the PTSD Information Center.
If you think you are suffering from PTSD, get help as soon as possible. The symptoms of PTSD can worsen with time, and early intervention can increase the success of recovery.
- Contact your health care professional
- Visit the National Center for PTSD
- Find your nearest VA hospital by calling 877-222-VETS
- Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- Call Military OneSource at 1-800-342-9647 for confidential information
- Check out the Vet Center Readjustment Services
- Call the VFW or American Legion for soldier support services
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