POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
While deployed, veterans encounter traumatic events such as war, disaster and acts of violence — all of which can trigger the onset of PTSD. Once referred to as shell shock or combat fatigue, PTSD is a mental health disorder that can develop after a frightening or distressing experience. With lasting symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks and intense feelings of fear or anxiety, PTSD can interfere with a veteran’s daily life and cause problems readjusting to society. It can also disrupt the ability to maintain healthy relationships and negatively affect their physical well-being. If left untreated, veterans with PTSD are more likely to become depressed or develop a substance abuse problem.
Many veterans also struggle with mood disorders like depression. They may be haunted by the past and feel disillusioned, withdrawn and hopeless after returning home, finding it difficult to function or complete daily tasks. Or they may experience feelings of guilt or shame, fatigue, a loss of interest in activities, suicidal thoughts and changes in appetite or sleeping habits. These and other symptoms are persistent and disruptive to daily life, negatively impacting personal relationships and the ability to work, go to school or care for a family. Mood disorders can affect anyone, but studies show that veterans with PTSD are at higher risk for developing. The good news is that both conditions can be treated concurrently with the right care and support.
Anxiety is another common mental health disorder among veterans and military personnel due to the stress, trauma and turmoil they’ve experienced. Anxiety disorders can manifest as panic attacks that occur suddenly or a persistent feeling of dread, worry or being on edge. These symptoms are often accompanied by a racing heart, trouble breathing, sweating and other physical reactions. There are many different types of anxiety, but each can interfere with the ability to concentrate or function normally and affect work, home or family life. Fortunately, anxiety in veterans can be managed with the proper treatment.
Veterans may also struggle with substance abuse, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), suicidal thoughts and other mental health challenges at rates higher than the general population. Since any of these can make it difficult to function normally, a proper diagnosis and treatment are required to improve a veteran’s health, wellness and overall quality of life.