PTSD is the acronym for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and refers to a cluster of symptoms that result from a past trauma. But what’s a trauma?. Trauma refers to a psychological or emotional imprint that occurs when an event or series events threatens our sense of safety or well-being to the extent that our minds react to protect us from any further exposure.
In order to protect ourselves until we are either healthy enough or supported well enough to address issues from the past, sometimes, our experience or memory of a traumatizing event can be compartmentalized or stored away. PTSD can be diagnosed as soon as 30 days after an event or as long as 30 years or more after an event. The good news is that the healing process can begin at any time.
A gun, a tank, a rocket launcher all make sense if you are a member of any of our armed services on a tour in the Middle East. They are necessary for the tasks that these men and women have been trained and, for better or worse, fit into the context of war.
Just as a rifle is a tool with a specific design; the sight to hone in on a target, materials that resist wear and damage, a magazine to hold rounds to defend or attack, a trigger to engage the sole purpose of the tool. So too, can a mind be conditioned to serve a specific purpose to suite an environment and a context that can be imagined, practiced and realized in mission after mission.
The difference is that the rifle is not expected to change purpose at the end of a tour. Whether in ‘that’ environment or another it maintains it’s function and form.
We expect our servicemen and women to suddenly, and with little preparation or explanation to change context, change purpose, dial back intensity, leave the thousands of hours of training in the camps.
If you are one of them. It may be one of most difficult experiences you have ever had, or will have. Feelings of detachment and isolation even when around familiar people, not feeling purposeful or needed, having a loss of direction and confusion about the future. These are all common to the returning soldier.
Aside from the personal effects, behavioral issues compound the problem. Poor sleep patterns, rapid mood changes, aggression and irritability, depression and even panic attacks can all be an unfortunate result of a rapid transition into what many soldiers had hoped for upon their return.
These symptoms are all part of a sydrome related to Acute Stress Disorder. This is the diagnosis that precludes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In later years the military has done a much better job of acknowledging wars effect on soldiers. However, the treatment modalities used such as Systematic Desensitization and Group therapies often offer little help.
The good news is that the prognosis for Acute Stress Disorder, PTSD and other trauma related issues is very good in that symptoms can be managed in a relatively short time and a healthier experience of themselves can begin immediately.
Please read more regarding EMDR and Neurobehavioral Medicine or call me to see if you, or someone you know may be a good candidate for treatment. And, Thank you for your service.