Post Traumatic Stress Among Soldiers
The Brave, The Few and The Proud…
The Vietnam War is one part of our dark history, an infamous conflict during the early 70s. This is a military event between the Communist forces of North Vietnam supported by China and the Soviet Union, and the non-communist forces of South Vietnam which was supported by the United States. It was a fierce battle between the Vietcong forces and the U.S Troops which ended after the Fall of Saigon in April 30, 1975.
It was a very costly war for the U.S but the main casualties are the Vietnam veterans which resulted from having a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This disorder is caused by prolonged exposure to violence and active warfare, also known as combat fatigue. This type of stress disorder is a delayed response to any stress situation or it can be threatening or catastrophic in nature like being in a combat action, witnessing a violent death of others, rape, terrorism and even torture.
Trauma occurs when a person had experienced, witnessed or confronted such a terrible event or that person may have been threatened with a terrible event, perhaps injury (psychological or physical). The person would usually respond to the event or the threat involves intense fear or helplessness. But having a strong reactions to trauma is normal.
Symptoms of PTSD include:
2. A sense of numbness
4. Avoidance of situations/activities reminiscent of the trauma
5. Sleep disturbances
7. Marital and Parental difficulties
8. Emotional instability
In PTSD, there is a state of enhanced startle reaction and insomnia. Depression and anxiety are commonly associated with above symptoms and signs, and suicidal ideation is not infrequent. The constant use of alcohol or drugs may be a complicating factor.
The consequences of PTSD are the following:
1. Psychological – aside from depression, it also includes panic attacks, social anxiety, conduct disorders, dissociation, and eating disorders.
2. Social outcomes – low self-esteem, alcohol and substance use, employment problems, trouble with the law.
3. Self-destructive behaviors- such as substance use, risky sexual behavior, self-injury and suicidal attempts
4. Physiological outcomes- physical complaints like headaches, digestive problems, chest pain, chronic pain
Anyone who has a prolonged exposure to severe traumatic experience is likely to have symptoms of post-traumatic stress. However, it may appear soon or after the event, while another many not surface right away. It may take years, one person may have relatively difficult adjusting and returning to a normal state.
Treatments for PTSD
The first step in getting treatment is getting a proper diagnosis and then treatment. This may include:
l Psychotherapy – treatment often takes longer and progresses more slowly than with other types of anxiety disorders, and is most effective with a trauma recovery program like cognitive-behavioral therapy.
l Medications – anti-depressants to calm anxiety and stabilize mood.
l Other Forms – There is also Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy combining a somatic therapeutic approach with eye movements or other forms of rhythmical stimulation. While somatic experiencing is a therapy incorporates observations of how animal treat themselves following traumatic events and focuses on restoring normality to the stress response.
One thing is for sure when being emotionally detached after a trauma is not a healthy response. Family and friends should lend a helping hand by giving enough comfort and support to victims who is suffering from this stress disorder. Quick recovery is possible if it is detected early. Showing how much you care for the victim will help him or her be determined to seek help and commit themselves to treatment.