Combat stress reactions and PTSD
Many diggers hesitate to receive mental health treatment for fear it will hurt their image or even ruin their military careers.
Through Young Diggers, you can receive confidential help and assistance, including counselling, without it going on your military record.
The American National Center for PTSD has developed a guide for veterans returning home from a war zone (Returning from the war zone: A guide for military personnel). This document is very inciteful reading and will assist military service members and veterans, like you, with your return. Subjects covered are:
- Experiences in the war zone
- What is a combat stress reaction?
- What are the symptoms of PTSD?
- Avoiding reminders and numbing of emotions
- How often is PTSD diagnosed in veterans?
- What causes combat stress reactions or PTSD?
- Other common reactions
- Suicidal thoughts
- Anger or aggressive behaviour
- Alcohol and/or drug abuse
- Self-blame, guilt and shame
- Ways these reactions may interfere with your life
- Effects on your family life
- Effects on work functioning
- Effects on other functioning
- What you can do to help yourself
- Don't allow stigma to get in your way
- Treatment for PTSD
- Common therapies used to treat PTSD
- Talking to your doctor about PTSD
- Checklist for trauma symptoms
The days and weeks after your return from overseas duty will be a transition. During this time, service members often describe a range of emotions from excitement and relief, to stress, tension or concern. All of these emotions are a normal part of a healthy transition from a war zone back home.
You may also feel distant, uninterested, or be overly critical and impatient with others. These types of behaviors and feelings are normal combat stress reactions. The guide describes these normal reactions and how normal reactions can become problematic.
We hope you find the guide informative. Learning what to expect upon
returning from a war zone, and about combat stress reactions and PTSD is an important first step to being able to recognize when to get extra help.
We want to emphasize that most combat related reactions are not permanent. In many cases, they will go away over time on their own. When they do continue, effective treatments are available. In most cases cognitive behavioral therapy (with or without medication) can either eliminate or at least improve stress reactions, alleviate functional problems, and help stop family disruption.
Remember, combat stress reactions are like any other physical injury from war. There is a range of how severe these invisible injuries are, just like there is a range of how severe physical injuries are.
With early proper treatment, you may avoid problems that impact your relationships and career. If problems do persist, treatment may help you continue with or return to your military career or job and lead a happy, well-adjusted life.
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