Are you finding it challenging to transition back into civilian life? Do certain smells, places, or people trigger the memories of the past that you cannot seem to run away from? Does that make you panic or want to burst? Or does it make you feel numb? Veterans serving in war zones often experience this phenomenon.
PTSD in veterans could be the result of several stressors like:
- Witnessing people being killed, especially those you may know
- Being attacked
- Making it out alive of a near-death experience
- Experiencing sexual violence
- Worry from loved ones
So, What Causes PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a lasting condition resulting from being exposed to an extremely traumatic or life-threatening event. The consequences include depression, paranoia, recurring flashbacks, reliving the traumatic event, or having nightmares inhibiting the ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. Shock is a normal bodily response to threats or stressful events. It becomes problematic when your nervous system gets “stuck” in this state. The nervous system has a few different ways of responding to traumatic experiences:
Mobilization is a typical fight or flight response to protect yourself from the dangers you experience. Your reflexes, reactions, and heartbeat become faster than usual. Once the imminent threat is gone, your body’s nervous system responds and functions become calm again and go back to normal.
Immobilization is when your nervous system is unable to return to its normal state of functioning. Your body’s muscles are perpetually tensed, ready to combat the danger, even though there is none at that point in time. You find yourself “stuck” in this state.
If you experience immobilization, you are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is the case for certain veterans who find it difficult to escape the war zone, mentally and emotionally. You are stuck in that reality. As a result, you tend to feel disconnected from life outside the war zone.
Effects of PTSD
PTSD affects different veterans differently. For some, it may take years to surface, whereas others may begin experiencing the effects of PTSD right away. Your body remains in that state of high stress that was felt during the traumatic experience and find it challenging to manage it. It happens when you are exposed to something that is beyond the normal human experience. It is extremely difficult to process this. Consequently, our bodies adapt various defense mechanisms to deal with this.
Hyperarousal is a common feature of PTSD, which includes persistent stress following a traumatic event. The symptoms of hyperarousal include insomnia, panic attacks, difficulty concentrating, irritability, hypervigilance, reckless behavior, and anger.
Reliving traumatic events
It can be via nightmares, flashbacks, hallucinations, illusions, or disturbing memories. These memories are not only stored in the mind but in the body’s stimuli as well. Sometimes our bodies remember what our minds are trying to forget. It is why bodily responses may seem out of place or exaggerated. You may experience heart palpitations or uncontrollable shaking in anticipation of the same traumatic event taking place again.
Inability to feel anything
Emotional numbness and avoiding events that trigger painful memories are part of the symptoms of PTSD. The victims feel hopeless, despair, and completely helpless. You may have little or no interest in daily life activities. It mostly includes withdrawing socially and not being able to relate to others.
Negative changes in your thoughts and moods
The difficulty or inability to experience or express positive emotions is a product of PTSD for veterans. You tend to experience intense feelings of shame, guilt, and fear. You may also hold negative beliefs about yourself and the environment you are surrounded by.
Effective Therapies for PTSD in Veterans
Seeking professional treatment for PTSD can help you accept the traumatic experiences as part of your past, and teach you how to make peace with it. Therapy can help you address the reasons behind your PTSD, and also prevent it from returning. Luckily, the professionals at MindShift Psychological Services are trained to deal with PTSD in veterans.
CBT for Veterans
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help you replace your negative ideas, perceptions, and thoughts with healthier responses, reactions, and stimuli. It can help you identify the distorted thoughts about the traumatic experience and make you regain the balance of your nervous system. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is beneficial for veterans who need assistance with stress management, coping, relaxation, and reshaping their perceptions of civilian life.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a unique, yet extremely effective therapy for overcoming trauma that limits your ability to live a happy life. MindShift Psychological Services has professionals who will sit with you and discuss your past in detail. EMDR Therapy can change the way veterans view their past, present, and future. Then, the therapist will ask you to follow their hand movements with your eyes, to relive those painful, traumatic memories, and move past them once and for all. You will realize the strength of your mind as it reprocesses your trauma.
This type of therapy is useful for veterans who have experienced violence during military service. PTSD can make you feel like you will fail in life, or may experience the same traumatic events again. Trauma Therapy helps deal with that by assisting you to grow as a person and developing techniques for you to move forward in life. These techniques include, but are not limited to, Prolonged Exposure Therapy, Narrative Exposure Therapy, and Emotional Freedom Therapy.
Therapy for Veterans
The goal here is to help veterans live a fulfilling life as a civilian. Therapy helps regain balance by adjusting sleep and guiding them through this tough transition. Therapy for Veterans is tremendously useful for veterans who want to overcome PTSD and learn to live a happy life gradually. It helps process traumatic events and memories. With the help of a professional, you will learn that the future is up to your imagination. Memories are only stored in your imagination, which is part of your past. This type of therapy can help veterans develop ways to leave the traumatic memories in the past by reliving them once and for all, in-depth, with the therapist.
Do I need PTSD counseling?
If you believe your PTSD is impacting your relationships with your loved ones or negatively impacting the significant spheres of your life, PTSD counseling may be the best option for you. A licensed professional counselor at MindShift Psychological Services can guide you through it, help you ascertain which therapy suits you best, and develop a wide range of methods to overcome negative behavioral and thought patterns. To benefit from the affordable and effective MindShift Psychological Services, contact us to schedule an appointment immediately.