How Can Veterans Cope With Combat PTSD Symptoms?

Say you experience a frightening event, like a deadly car crash, natural disaster, brutal war, or physical abuse. The aftermath of any of these events can make you feel shattered, and you may find it challenging to cope with the trauma. If you can’t get over the memories, and it starts impacting your day-to-day life, you might have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and need to consult a clinician. A considerable population across the globe catch PTSD at some point in their lives. If you are also diagnosed with it, you need not panic. 

After serving in the army, restructuring life outside the military can be challenging. Plus, if you have been engaged in brutal combat while defending your country, the chances are high that you will be diagnosed with PTSD later in your life. 

It is normal to feel isolated or withdrawn from others when suffering from PTSD, but you should not think that you are alone. There are treatments and therapies that can help you over PTSD. 

Combat PTSD symptoms – 

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms take time to reflect. Sometimes, the symptoms may develop a few days after the event, whereas in some cases, the symptoms may develop over a few weeks or even after six months.  

Combat PTSD symptoms may differ from person to person. Veterans may experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Recurring reminders – Getting frequent flashbacks of the event as a result of trauma. It makes the person think that the unfortunate incident is retaking, leading to extreme emotional reactions, including panic attacks, uncontrollable shivering, and uneven heartbeats.
  • Avoidance – A person with PTSD ends up isolating themself from the outside work and from places that may remind them of the event. 
  • Cognitive changes – The sufferer may not be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle and may feel afraid, guilty, or shameful.
  • Freaking Out – The person may respond angrily or feel irritated all the time. They may also experience a lack of sleep and always stay on edge.

 

PTSD triggers fear response and memory in a person. During the active phase of PTSD, the person acts vigilantly and stays on the edge even long after the trauma is ended. As the memories continue to strengthen in mind the sufferer gets flashbacks so vivid that it feels they are living the event again. The person may feel the tastes, odor, see images, and get sensations of the event.

Getting over combat PTSD and its symptoms – 

Combat PTSD symptoms get intense and affect a person in many ways if left untreated. Resorting to healthy coping strategies can help overcome this disorder easily – 

  • Talk to your friends and family about how you feel. They may not like watching you struggle. To help you, they need to know what’s causing you stress. 
  • Look out for activities that you would like to indulge in. Participating in engaging activities can help you stay away from negative feelings and feel positive. 
  • Do not find escape in drugs or alcohol as they will not help you overcome PTSD. Instead, substance abuse will ruin your physical and mental health even more. 
  • Try to interact with people you like and spend time outdoors with them.
  • There are social groups that have people suffering from PTSD. You can join such groups and share your story with others who are also going through the same thing. 

 

Risk, Causes, and Diagnosis – 

You are likely to be prone to PTSD if the traumatic event you have experienced is deadly or extremely disturbing. Besides, multiple exposures to a traumatic event are more likely to make you vulnerable to PTSD. Some of the risk factors that may increase the chances of PTSD include:

  • Previous medical case of depression
  • History of physical or mental abuse
  • Stressful daily life
  • Inability to cope on your own.
  • Not getting help or support post traumatic event.
  • Long-lasting anxiety. 
  • Rigorous substance abuse
  • Serving in the warzone. 
  • History of child abuse
  • Unexpected exposure to hardships.
  • Intended human-afflicted harm (like rape, mental abuse) is more likely to cause PTSD than natural disasters or other events. 

 

People with PTSD are also vulnerable to other mental conditions, including depression and anxiety, leading to suicide and substance abuse. Therefore, you must consult a clinician or seek proper treatment if you experience long-lasting PTSD symptoms. PTSD significantly impacts your productivity, and you lose focus from your work. Every person is affected differently by PTSD symptoms. PTSD symptoms in women, men, and children may differ in every aspect, depending on their trauma.

PTSD Treatment – 

There are several treatment options available for people who are diagnosed with PTSD. PTSD treatments may include:

  • Trauma-focused CBT – CBT helps you comprehend your thought process and tells you how to change your feelings and response to PTSD symptoms. 
  • EMDR for PTSD – EMDR includes exposure therapy and CBT with eye-movement techniques. While focusing on traumatic experience, special rapid eye movements can trigger the healing process and give you positivity.
  • Group therapy/Supportive psychotherapy – Talking about your feelings and experience with other people living with PTSD can help you know your conditions and emotions better. It can also boost your confidence and help you focus on your work.
  • Mindfulness – Mindfulness helps you concentrate and analyze your daily behavior and response to others. While this therapy may not take away your stress, it is a great way to deal with PTSD more calmly.

Compassion-focused therapy – compassion-focused therapy (CFT) is a psychotherapy system developed by Paul Gilbert that uses cognitive behavioral therapy techniques with concepts from evolutionary psychology, social psychology, developmental psychology, Buddhist psychology, and neuroscience.

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