Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological condition caused by a traumatic event. PTSD has different effects on people. Today we are talking about how PTSD affects our veterans.
Being a veteran that has PTSD, I know how hard it is to talk about it. It took me a long time to admit that I had issues and even longer to get help for it. I didn’t realize how PTSD affects veterans until I started doing some research.
How PTSD Affects Veterans
The effects PTSD has on veterans is similar to the effects that PTSD has on anyone else. PTSD symptoms in veterans include: Persistent re-experiencing of events (such as through flashbacks or nightmares)
- Avoidance of anything that reminds the sufferer of the trauma
- Negative changes in thoughts, feelings or perceptions related to the trauma (such as a persistent negative mood)
- Changes in reactivity (such as angry outbursts)
Source: Healthy Place
Flashbacks are another sign on how PTSD affects veterans. A flashback is where the person keeps reliving the traumatic events. Many triggers can cause flashbacks.
We got back from Iraq, and we had vineyards next to our base. To keep birds away, farmers would use something that sounded like gunshots. Sometimes these would go off and throw me into a flashback of being in a firefight.
Nightmares are something veterans experience. I still have nightmares to this day, but they aren’t as bad as they were when I first came back.
I would have nightmares three to four times a week and sometimes more. The nightmares were about firefights, being shot, losing people and an IED blowing up next to my truck.
Veterans are suffering from PTSD experience mood changes. Things could be going right and then at the drop of a pin, their mood shifts. My mood swings were far and wide.
I could go from 0 – 10 in a matter of seconds. My anger was terrible when I came back from Iraq. I would try to drink my PTSD away, but this only made me angrier. An angry outburst is typical in veterans with PTSD.
Alcohol and drugs are common in veterans with PTSD. Alcohol and drugs are used to numb and forget about the traumatic experiences. Alcohol doesn’t help veterans.
If anything, it makes things worse. Alcohol has cost me, friends and people, I loved. I didn’t have self-control and would drink until I couldn’t remember anything.
The rate of substance use disorders among veterans ranged from 3.7 per cent among pre-Vietnam-era veterans to 12.7 per cent among those who served in the military since September 2001. Source: SAMHSA
Many veterans suffer suicidal tendencies, and many do commit suicide. Veterans that have seen combat and lost battle buddies often suffer survivor guilt. Veterans question why they didn’t die, and others did. Veterans often think it should have been them instead of their buddies.
In the last four years, the official government estimate on the number of veterans who die by suicide has gone from 22 a day to 17 a day in the latest Veterans Affairs report. But the rate of suicides among veterans didn’t decrease over that span. Instead, the way the figures are sorted and presented did.
Instead, outside experts note that by many markers, the problem has grown even worse. The total number of suicides among veterans has increased four of the last five years on record. From 2007 to 2017, the rate of suicide among veterans jumped almost 50 per cent.
Veterans are 1.5 times more likely to die by suicide than Americans who never served in the military. For female veterans, the risk factor is 2.2 times more likely. Source: Military Times
Veterans with PTSD can have a hard time maintaining relationships. I can vouch for this from experience. It’s hard to stay with someone that has an alcohol or drug problem. Veterans can have anger issues, and if ignored, they can push their partner away. Veterans with PTSD have a hard time getting close to someone. Getting close to someone means vulnerability and veterans think they aren’t vulnerable.
Being a veteran with PTSD, it has been hard for me to maintain any relationship. I have come to the point in my life where I would rather be alone than to be with someone. I lost someone that I loved very much because of my issues with PTSD. One thing I didn’t realize was how that affected my daughter. I wasn’t the only one that lost. My daughter did, as well. I still have to deal with that to this day.
It’s not her fault her dad has issues. I don’t want to bring another woman in her life, and I do something to push her away. It would break my heart more than it does now.
Trauma survivors with PTSD may have trouble with their close family relationships or friendships. The symptoms of PTSD can cause problems with trust, closeness, communication, and problem-solving. These problems may affect the way the survivor acts with others. In turn, the way a loved one responds to him or her affects the trauma survivor. A circular pattern can develop that may sometimes harm relationships. (Source: VA.gov)
These are a few things on how PTSD affects veterans. If you see veterans with any of these issues, try to convince them to get help. It may be an uphill battle at first, but it’s worth it.
We lose too many veterans, and we need to do everything we can to stop this. I will be writing more on how PTSD affects veterans and solution to help our heroes.
If you are a veteran reading this, it’s not too late to get help. You might think that not getting help is more manly but I will tell you this. You will be more of a man if you admit you have an issue.
Thank you to all veterans that served. It’s also important to thank veterans’ spouses and family, it’s not easy being with someone in the military.
Are you stressed out? Have a look at our article on how to deal with stress positively!