A while ago I mentioned a friend whose grandfather had never dealt with the trauma he experienced during the Second World War, and how Post Traumatic Stress Disorder cast a shadow over the rest of his life.

This story made me curious about what our servicemen and women experience today, and if enough is being done to combat post-traumatic stress accumulated in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The US government estimates that 20% of its Iraq and Afghanistan veterans  suffer from post-traumatic stress, and Britain’s numbers doubled from 2008 to 2009. Although the government pledged 7.2 million pounds in increased services to members of the military for dealing with trauma, large numbers of these cases still go unreported, misunderstood or ignored. Sleep disturbance could be misconstrued as random nightmares and simple insomnia. Outbursts of rage could be from day-to-day stresses or the just getting back into the groove of civilian life. Flashbacks might be mistaken for routine memories of the past.

 Post traumatic stress from combat is often triggered by events such as being shot at, witnessing death firsthand (often of a friend or comrade), or dealing with the constant stress of never feeling safe.  This does not mean that if you have seen these things you have PTSD, and PTSD itself runs a gamut from very minor cases to those who cannot function at all normally in daily life. It’s important not to self-diagnose, but to speak to a healthcare professional and ask how you can be sure your feelings of anxiety are post traumatic stress.

Even if military personnel do not have PTSD, the anxieties of crossing back into life outside the warzone are to be expected. The immediate change from a high-pressure, consistently dangerous environment to one where family members and friends expect you to be the same as before you went into combat can create intense feelings of nervousness. The best thing, either way, is to seek help if you fear anxiety or PTSD symptoms are interfering with your life. 

Finally if you have tried all the talk therapies and want to learn technique that involves no talking to relieve your symptoms then take a closer look at TRE.

 Click here for an interesting look at art created by soldiers with PTSD: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2331265/The-scars-battle-Soldiers-suffering-PTSD-make-chilling-face-masks-feelings.html

 Sources and further reading:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/magazine/issues/winter09/articles/winter09pg15a.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/9934809/PTSD-on-the-rise-among-British-servicemen-and-women-after-decade-of-war.html