This June is the United States Department of Veterans Affairs‘ (VA) post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month, and that makes this the perfect time to share information about PTSD. Whether you’re a veteran living with PTSD yourself, your loved one is a service member with post-traumatic stress, or you just want to support people dealing with this mental health condition, read on for what you need to know during PTSD Awareness Month.
1. PTSD Is More Common Than You Think
PTSD runs rampant among United States military personnel. Veterans deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan during operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, for example, have an 11 to 20 percent risk to develop PTSD. And that number may go up with time, as evidenced by the fact that Vietnam veterans face a 30 percent risk to develop PTSD.
These numbers show that PTSD is a reality for millions of United States veterans. Part of spreading awareness means knowing how common this issue is, and you can use this information to help veterans with PTSD feel less alone or isolated.
2. PTSD Has a Variety of Causes
Even among veterans, post-traumatic stress can result for a variety of traumatic life events. Combat exposed veterans face increased risk, as do veterans who experience military sexual trauma. But the different causes go even further than that.
Sometimes, veterans develop PTSD not due to their own trauma, but trauma that their friends or family have experienced. For example, a veteran may develop PTSD symptoms after learning that a friend was injured in the line of duty. In cases like this, the PTSD symptoms are no less real, even though the initial trauma did not happen to the individual.
3. PTSD Affects Each Veteran Differently
In popular culture, the image of a veteran being startled by fireworks or a car alarm is a familiar one. And while many military personnel do experience PTSD in these ways, just as many have completely different triggers. Because different trauma creates different triggers, it is impossible for an outside observer to know what will re-ignite post-traumatic stress in a veteran.
For this reason, listen to veterans when they tell you that a certain situation is too much for them. Healing from invisible wounds of war takes time, and different people heal at different rates. If you’re a veteran yourself, don’t feel discouraged if someone seems to recover more quickly than you do. Recovering from trauma is a highly personalized process, and being a slow healer does not mean that you are failing at recovery.
4. PTSD Creates New Issues
When a service member lives with PTSD, they also live with all of the problems that it creates. For example, if you are a veteran who cannot find help, you might feel tempted to use drugs or alcohol to cope with your symptoms. While that impulse is understandable, this kind of behavior can quickly spiral into addiction. Addiction, in turn, can worsen your mental health, leading to even worse signs and symptoms of PTSD.
For this reason, it’s important that veterans receive care that treats both PTSD and addiction. This way, you can make a full recovery that does not leave any residual issues unaddressed.
5. You Have the Power to Help People with PTSD
Perhaps the most dangerous misconception is that you cannot help veterans living with PTSD. Even if you’re not a veteran yourself or a mental health professional, you can always act as a resource for veterans in your life. Try things like:
- Familiarizing yourself with local treatment options in case a loved one is in need
- Listening to the issues and concerns of veterans and showing your support
- Reading about PTSD to better understand the condition
No matter who you are or what you do in life, you can help veterans with PTSD. All you have to do is be open to the opportunity to show that you care.
Do you know someone who could benefit from help with PTSD and addiction recovery treatment? Our admissions specialists can answer your questions at 1-888-838-6692, or you can fill out a confidential contact form.