Recognizing the Symptoms of PTSD

Recognizing the Symptoms of PTSD

Taking the First Step in Helping Those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Millions of people in the nation are affected directly or indirectly by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but help is available.  A Florida-based, national group that seeks to inform the public about PTSD and offer assistance is the EOD Warrior Foundation— an organization that supports military Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians and their families.  It offers financial relief, therapeutic healing retreats, and a scholarship program.  It also takes responsibility for care of the EOD Memorial Wall, located at Elgin Air Force Base.

Foundation Founder Ken Falke says friends and loved ones of those who have PTSD can help.  “Recognizing the symptoms is the first step in the process for helping our loved ones,” he says.  “Signs of depression, anxiety, anger, and insomnia are good indicators.

“The second step is to seek out reputable and successful mental health experts in your area,” he advises.  “If the first experience with a therapist is negative, seek out an alternative.  Remember that all relations take time, and require the hard work of both parties to make them work.”

And it’s worth it to hang in there, he points out.  “It is a fact that those who complete treatment can get better,” he says.  “The biggest challenge we find is that those with PTSD don’t stick out the entire treatment protocols, and often get over-medicated.  Also, don’t be afraid to look for alternative and complementary services.”

According to the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), PTSD— which may result after someone has been through trauma— can happen to anyone.  The VA reports that between seven and eight percent of the general population will have PTSD sometime in their lives.  In any given year, some 8 million people in the country have it.

“PTSD is a serious issue for the EOD family,” says Nicole Motsek, executive director of the EOD Warrior Foundation.  “There have been 16 years of war and multiple deployments that have taken a toll on our force and on their family members.”
Those in the military tend to have a higher rate of rate of PTSD, with up to 20 percent in veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, 12 percent of Gulf War veterans, and 15 percent of Vietnam veterans.

Key points about PTSD:

  • It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of PTSD to make it possible to help a family member or friend.  Symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, avoiding situations that remind the person of the traumatic event, feeling bad about themselves, and being hyper-vigilant and on the lookout for danger.
  • Some people may avoid treatment or being diagnosed with PTSD because they feel it is a sign of weakness.  There is nothing weak about someone getting treatment for a condition that is impacting his or her life.
  • Children can also have PTSD.  Younger children may have symptoms that include having difficulty sleeping, getting overly upset if parents are not near them, or acting out the trauma through play.  Older children may exhibit the same symptoms as adults.
  • Many who have PTSD may also have other conditions, such as depression, anxiety, hopelessness, shame, substance abuse problems, relationship problems, experience chronic pain, or difficulty obtaining and keeping jobs.
  • Those with PTSD should explore treatment options to see what works for them.  Some people are able to eventually lead symptom-free lives, while others are able to reduce them or experience less intense symptoms.  Many people who seek treatment for PTSD have positive results.

“We are fortunate that there are good treatment options available, and our foundation is here to help the EOD family,” says Motsek.  “The more we raise awareness about the invisible injuries of war and help reduce the stigma associated with PTSD, the more our force can heal and experience post-traumatic growth.”
The foundation’s work is supported by private donors.  To learn more about the EOD Warrior Foundation, go to eodwarriorfoundation.org.

Sources: US. Department of Veteran Affairs.National center for PTSD
ptsd.va.gov/public/PTSD-overview/basics/what-is-ptsd.asp

U.S Department of Veteran Affairs. How common is PTSD?
ptsd.va.gov/public/PTSD-overview/basics/how-common-is-ptsd.asp

by

MARY TOOTHMAN

Categories: Features, Health News

About Author