By: Nicole Bieniasz
The physical impact that war has on soldiers has been well documented, however often times war leaves scars that are not visible to the naked eye. With countless men and women returning from serving our country, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), has been on the rise. PTSD is defined as, “A debilitating mental disorder that follows experiencing or witnessing an extremely traumatic, tragic, or terrifying event.” There are endless gruesome and traumatic events that soldiers encounter on the field such as bombings, shootings, or even near-death experiences. Not all veterans suffer from PTSD immediately after their return; there are cases where veterans can have delayed-onset PTSD that occurs months after the experience. There are three main symptoms that indicate whether someone is suffering from PTSD, which are:
1. Re-Experiencing Symptoms: The individual relives the experience through flashbacks. Reliving the experience through flashbacks causes certain emotions to arise such as fear and helplessness.
2. Avoidance and Numbing Symptoms: The person suffering with PTSD will make an effort to avoid any situation that might generate memories of the experience. Avoidance can be so extreme the individual will avoid specific smells along with sounds and sights. Feelings of numbness will cause someone to lose interest in matters they were once interested in.
3. Arousal Symptoms: After the traumatic experience, the individual is constantly on guard and alert to their surroundings. Being constantly alert causes difficulty in concentration, expression of anger, difficulty sleeping, and many other related symptoms.
Despite these three central indications of PTSD, there are other symptoms that have been prevalent in veterans who suffer from PTSD. Both men and women experiencing PTSD suffer from depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. According to Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs, “more than half of men with PTSD also have problems with alcohol.” Those who suffer from PTSD rely on alcohol to avoid the emotional distress caused by the decrease of endorphins after a traumatic experience. If veterans do not deal with their PTSD they might find it difficult to adjust, which in turn can cause unemployment, divorce, spousal abuse, and other interpersonal difficulties.
Different types of treatments have been tested and proven to be successful in many cases. The treatments that currently exist are:
- Trauma Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
- Family Therapy
- Exposure Therapy
If you or anyone you care about may be struggling with PTSD, the licensed professionals at Arista Counseling&Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.
Vasterling, J.J., Duke, L. M., Brailey, K., Constans, J. I., Allain, A. N., & Sutker, P. B. (2002). Attention, learning, and memory performances and intellectual resources in Vietnam veterans: PTSD and no disorder comparisons.Neuropsychology, 16(1), 5.