ptsd, Self Improvement / Healthy Living, Uncategorized

Alternative Therapies for Veterans with PTSD

There are more than fifty thousand veterans in the United States today. A significant portion of which have experienced, in one way or another, a sort of unforgettable and traumatic event during their tour of duty. When these incidents create frequent and negative emotional personal responses, coupled with physical injury and other physical or psychological illnesses, a person is most likely experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can occur to anyone who has experienced a life-threatening event like military combat, terrorist attacks, child abuse, serious automobile accidents, sexual assault, rape, hurricanes, earthquakes, or kidnapping. In veterans, PTSD usually stems from events during combat or military duty. Symptoms of PTSD may surface right away while there are cases where symptoms only manifest after years.

Symptoms of PTSD in Veterans

Once soldiers and military personnel have retired or ended their service tours and they try to live a normal civilian life, PTSD symptoms can surface. Why this occurs is not known. But the symptoms and its emergence may vary depending on how the trauma’s impact to the veteran, how much control the veteran felt for the event, how close he/she was to the event and to the persons affected.

PTSD is usually diagnosed when the symptoms last for more than four weeks and the symptoms have remarkably affected the veteran’s life and work.

The four types of PTSD symptoms are: 1) Re-experiencing the event, 2) Avoiding memory triggers, 3) Hyper-arousal, and 4) Feeling guilt and numb.

How Is PTSD Treated?

The primary mode of treatment for PTSD is a combination of medications and counseling. The latter can be any form of any of the following evidence-based psychotherapies: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). These techniques are even endorsed by the United States Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs.

The first line of pharmacologic treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder typically involves the use of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRIs like Sertraline (Zoloft), Fluoxetine (Prozac) and Paroxetine (Paxil). The neurotransmitter serotonin is essential in how our body’s moods are regulated. SSRIs functions in a way that serotonins cannot be absorbed by our brain cells and therefore manages the anxiety and negative moods experienced by patients with PTSD. Current scientific evidence base strongly support these drugs. However, there can be exceptions for their prescription if the patient is experiencing other conditions like bipolar disorder.

In some cases, veterans seek other forms of treatment in conjunction to their current treatment regimens. Psychiatrists also recommend veterans to participate in complementary and alternative forms of treatment for PTSD.

Alternative Therapies for PTSD

Acupuncture

Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles into the skin layers of meridian points in the body. This process aims to restore balance and energy flow, giving the person a profound sense of calm. Veterans with PTSD who seek this form of treatment often report a decrease in nightmares and when it is coupled with psychotherapy, the results can be remarkable. In Oriental medicine, acupuncture is also used to treat other bodily illnesses, anxiety and stress disorders. Most Veterans Affairs offices in the country offer it as one the different alternative therapies available for veterans.

You can check this link if your local Veterans Affairs office has a resident acupuncturist in their roster: http://www2.va.gov/directory/guide/ptsd_flsh.asp

Biofeedback

Biofeedback is a form of a physiological control technique. With the use of an electronic instrument attached to the patient, the patient can alter his/her reactions when the instrument indicates abnormal internal responses. In veterans with PTSD, biofeedback can be applied to control symptoms like sudden anger, being jittery, or having flashbacks.

Relaxation Techniques

Hyperarousal is the state of always being jittery and excessively vigilant for signs of danger. This is a common symptom among veterans with PTSD and can lead to sleeping disorders, panic attacks, and anger issues. When veterans’ exhibit these symptoms are observed, therapists often teach and recommend doing relaxation techniques.

A simple relaxation exercise can involve alternate clenching one’s right fist, releasing it, and doing the same step with his/her left fist. Progressive muscle relaxation can be done in as little as five to ten minutes or whenever patients feel like they are feeling particularly jumpy.

Yoga

Veterans with PTSD often exhibit issues with their body’s fight-or-flight reactions, often making them feel stressed out. By doing yoga, their bodies are retrained to adapt to these traumatic memories by facing them down and incorporating deep breathing techniques and calming posture instead of the usual flighty reactions. Several studies done by the United States Department of Defense also supports the long-held belief that yoga helps improve the health conditions of PTSD-diagnosed veterans.

Most yoga classes can be done in a group setting or you can ask for a one on one session with an instructor. As little as two months of weekly classes can do wonders for your body and state of mind.

Equine Therapy

A recent alternative form of therapy for veterans with PTSD is the use of horses. Veterans undergoing equine therapy are made to care for a horse. Horses are animals that, when taught and trained properly, are receptive to social cues.

A horse’s ability to bond to a human trainer and sense their moods is helpful when dealing with anyone with PTSD. Veterans in equine therapy are found to have decreased stress levels. They are also found to be more compliant with this alternative form of treatment perhaps because horse-riding can be an enjoyable sport.

Equine therapy is also offered in about 30 Veteran Affairs centers in the country.

PTSD Coach App

Another alternative form of PTSD treatment for veterans is the PTSD Coach. This is a smartphone app that veterans can download for free. The app allows veterans to be aware of the onset PTSD symptoms, gives steps to cope with stress and provides links to PTSD help lines.

Integrating technology in this alternative treatment method is a step carving out a safe and nonjudgmental place for veterans who are experiencing PTSD symptoms but are too afraid or confused to seek help.

Mindfulness and Meditation

The practice of mindfulness is useful to veterans with PTSD since this allows them to focus on the now and learn to deal with situations that affect them in the present moment. PTSD patients are often plagued with flashbacks of traumatic events that can be crippling to them. Mindfulness is a tool against these experiences.

Mindfulness-based treatment plans are offered in PTSD clinics and Veterans Affairs centers all over the country. These therapy sessions include group or one-on-one sharing sessions, stretching and meditation exercises.

Massage Therapy

The use of touch and physical manipulation as a form of alternative treatment has been common in many cultures all over the world. This therapy centers on the belief that health is restored by the manual manipulation of bones, muscles and tissues. For veterans with PTSD, this form of treatment can be beneficial since it allows the patients to relax and loosen their minds.

Massage therapy can be used in conjunction with other conventional forms of treating PTSD. Other forms of massage therapy like Rolfing and chiropractice. It should be noted that these treatment modalities should not be used with patients with a history of physical abuse or those with heightened senses.

Family Therapy

Family therapy can often be done in conjunction with any form cognitive behavioral therapy that a person with PTSD commits to. Counseling in this form allows the patient and his/her family to communicate with each other and learn more about how PTSD is treated. The burden of treatment for PTSD should not only fall towards the person experiencing it, but it should also be shared with you and your family for it to be successfully treated.

The important part about family therapy is to improve a family’s relationship dynamics.

Energy Therapy

Energy therapy is a relatively newer form of complementary and alternative therapy for PTSD. One of the most prominent forms of energy therapy is called Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT.

This treatment option is a variation of acupuncture since the patient touches the acupuncture points or energy meridians in one’s body to stimulate them. Energy therapy can be learned through a practiced instructor and, later on, the patient can perform the techniques himself.

Image Rehearsal Therapy

Image rehearsal therapy is used for managing nightmares in patients with PTSD. It is a form of guided imagery where patients are taught to picture a series of scenes or a picture from their traumatic experiences and use this to cope with it over a period of time. When veterans are taught to consciously picture these images in their minds, their nightly terrors will not be as disturbing in effect.

There are other forms of alternative therapies used by different cultures in the world. The ones enumerated here are those most effective for PTSD. If you wish to explore them, you can visit www.holisticonline.com

Implications

At this time, there is insufficient proof of the effectiveness of complementary and alternative therapies for treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in veterans. However, initial findings of alternative therapies are encouraging. Therefore, they are best used in addition to conventional treatments for PTSD patients or as a stepping stone for patients who decline to get medical treatment for PTSD.

Where to Get Help

Talking to a therapist is not easy nor is taking medications whose side effects you cannot be sure of. But if you are experiencing any of PTSD symptoms, it’s no good keeping your feelings repressing them either. There are a lot of options for now out there. You can seek for help online, just visit www.ptsd.va.gov/public/where-to-get-help.asp

Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir

In this dark humored War Memoir, Iraq veteran Michael Anthony discusses his return from war and how he defeated his PTSD. Civilianized is a must read for any veteran, or anyone who knows a veteran, who has returned from war and suffered through Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

dark humored military memoir“An intense memoir.” -Kirkus

“I wont soon forget this book.” -Mary Roach

“A must read.” -Colby Buzzell

“[S]mart and mordantly funny.” –Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Anthony delivers a dose of reality that can awaken the mind…” Bookreporter

Order your copy of Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir .

Politics / News, ptsd, Uncategorized

How can I help someone with PTSD?

PTSD Awareness Month

PTSD does not just affect the person who has it. Rather, the condition can also have a negative impact on his or her family and friends. It’s not easy to live with the symptoms of PTSD, and seeing your loved ones suddenly change their behavior can be utterly terrifying. You fear that they won’t ever come back to normal, even when they’re under therapy.

Even though things may get difficult, it is important that you give your full support to the person suffering from PTSD. It doesn’t sound much, but it can actually promote a positive change to your loved one. Here are tips on how you and your family can cope with PTSD:

  1. Be patient. Even if a person is totally committed to his treatments, it will really take a lot of time before he can recover from PTSD. This means that you really need to be patient throughout the process.
  2. Learn more about PTSD. If you understand how PTSD works, its effects, and the available treatments, you will be more capable of helping your loved one and keep everything in the right perspective.
  3. Don’t force the person to discuss his thoughts and feelings. Talking about traumatic experiences can be really difficult, even if you are discussing it with someone close to you. Instead of forcing your loved one to talk to you, give him some space and allow him to open up when he is ready. Just tell him that you are always willing to talk.
  4. Learn to listen. If they are ready to talk about their traumatic experiences, listen to them without forming any judgments and expectations. Make him feel that you are interested in what he is saying and that you care about him. You don’t necessarily have to give some advice all the time; it’s enough that you just listen to him. Let the professionals give the advice for you.

In some cases, a person suffering from PTSD may feel the need to rehash the traumatic event over and over again. This can be infuriating at times, but avoid scolding him and telling him to move on with his life. Let him talk and lend a listening ear.

Keep in mind that it’s alright if you don’t like what you hear. It’s understandable that traumatic experiences are stories that are really difficult to digest. However, make sure that you still respect their feelings.

Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir

In this dark humored War Memoir, Iraq veteran Michael Anthony discusses his return from war and how he defeated his PTSD. Civilianized is a must read for any veteran, or anyone who knows a veteran, who has returned from war and suffered through Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

dark humored military memoir“An intense memoir.” -Kirkus

“I wont soon forget this book.” -Mary Roach

“A must read.” -Colby Buzzell

“[S]mart and mordantly funny.” –Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Anthony delivers a dose of reality that can awaken the mind…” Bookreporter

Order your copy of Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir .

Picture: Flickr/Alexis Lane

Blogishness, Blogishness, Comedy

The New Impractical Jokers Card Game – Play at the bar with friends! (Pics included)

impractical jokers card gameThe show Impractical Jokers is one of the funniest things on TV right now. In case you’re not familiar, it’s a reality series where four friends Joseph “Joe” Gatto, James “Murr” Murray, Brian “Q” Quinn and Salvatore “Sal” Vulcano challenge each other to complete ridiculous pranks (which are, of course, filmed by hidden cameras).

It might not sound like much, but it’s a hilarious show. Trust me, try out a few episodes–it’s one of those shows where you need two or three before you get into it (that’s how it was explained to me and I fully agree; when I saw my first episode I was like “Yeah, this is okay,” but by episodes three and four I was hooked!)

Anyway, here’s why I’m writing about the Impractical Jokers today: Whenever I watch the show, part of the fun is imagining myself and my friends in similar situations and pulling similar pranks. This got me thinking, and as I result I invented: The Impractical Jokers Card Game!

Here’s the front of the cards:impractical jokers card game

There are two sets of cards:  Challenge Cards and Punishment Cards (samples below).

How to play: You and a group of friends go to a bar (or some other public venue) and each person draws a challenge card. [The challenge cards are all based on challenges that the Jokers have done on their TV show; I tried to choose simple challenges, that the casual fan would have fun with and be able to accomplish while at a bar with friends. (Also included are Joker VS Joker Challenge Cards and Jokers Wild Cards–where your friends choose your challenge!)]impractical jokers card game joe gattoimpractical jokers card game james murr murrayimpractical jokers card game brian quinn

impractical jokers new card game sal vulcanoAfter each participant either completes or fails their challenge, all losers will then draw a punishment card (other option is that you continue with the challenge cards until there is only one loser).

impractical jokers card game jaden smithThe punishment cards also have a different back than the challenge cards (so they can easily be told apart).

impractical jokers new card game punishment cards

The punishments are nothing like they are on the show. They’re more simple, buy a round of beers or appetizers for your friends, automatic designated driver next time you all go out, give your friends your phone and let them post a Facebook update for you, etc.

Now, here’s the deal. This is a supper fun game, I’ve played it with friends, but I’m not here to sell you the game. What I need though is your help in contacting the Jokers and convincing them to create an official Impractical Jokers Card Game. It’s hard coming up with challenges and punishments and I think we need the Jokers to add their magic touch and create a fun game that all us Impractical Jokers fans can take with us to the bar with friends.

If you want to help, just link the idea/images to the Jokers on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, etc. Maybe it catches on, maybe it doesn’t. Just a fun idea I had and wanted to see if there was any traction.

Thanks guys!

Politics / News, ptsd, Uncategorized

Alternative PTSD Treatments

alternative therapies for PTSDContemporary Alternative PTSD Treatments…

Aside from the conventional medications and therapy sessions, war veterans suffering from PTSD can also opt to try alternative treatment to calm their mind.

Usually, contemporary treatments are used alongside with the conventional medications. A popular example of this one is the use of aromatherapy to reduce the discomfort that a patient feels after surgery. In some instances, these alternative treatments are used instead of contemporary ones; as in the case of following a special, healthy diet instead of undergoing chemotherapy.

The list below shows several effective treatments that will help reduce your anxiety and depression. Please keep in mind that you must still consult your personal physician before trying out these contemporary methods:

  1. Relaxation Techniques

These methods offer a short-term relief for anxiousness or depression. It is also used for patients with inflammatory or heart diseases. Relaxation techniques are effective for adults suffering from generalized anxiety disorder. Unlike the cognitive behavioral therapy, this one can be done at home and without the need for a therapist.

  1. Acupuncture

This is another therapy that is gaining popularity in the field of PTSD. In fact, the group Acupuncturists Without Borders offers free acupuncture treatment to war veterans. You can find these specialists in more than 25 health facilities across the United States.

Acupuncture is a great alternative for the pharmacological drugs that are commonly administered in hospitals. Aside from being affordable, this treatment does not alter one’s brain negatively and it allows soldiers to carry out their duties while undergoing conventional PTSD treatment.

  1. Yoga

This is another alternative treatment that is widely embraced by active military while undergoing PTSD treatments. The physical movements of yoga are effective at relieving pain, bringing lasting comfort, and providing adequate physical stimulation at the same time.

People who are haunted by nightmares and anxieties find it difficult to sleep at night. Even though they are not on guard duty anymore, most war veterans have an extremely vigilant nervous system.

With the right yoga and meditation techniques, PTSD patients can learn how to relax their nervous system, allowing them to have restful sleep. Yoga also gives the feeling of safety and calmness.

  1. Kava

Kava is a plant that thrives in the South Pacific region. It is commonly used for improving one’s mood and relieving anxiety in a safe manner. It can usually be bought in tablet forms. Ask your personal physician first before taking up kava tablets.

Efficacy of Alternative Medications

There is still a lot to learn when it comes to alternative medications for PTSD. Acupuncture, for instance, is proven to be effective. However, it needs to be further evaluated in order to determine its non-specific benefits.

The Department of Veterans Affairs offer evidence-based treatments. Although they do not have specific guidelines for providing alternative PTSD treatments, they are implementing ways to track their effectiveness on patients.

Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir

In this dark humored War Memoir, Iraq veteran Michael Anthony discusses his return from war and how he defeated his PTSD. Civilianized is a must read for any veteran, or anyone who knows a veteran, who has returned from war and suffered through Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

dark humored military memoir“An intense memoir.” -Kirkus

“I wont soon forget this book.” -Mary Roach

“A must read.” -Colby Buzzell

“[S]mart and mordantly funny.” –Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Anthony delivers a dose of reality that can awaken the mind…” Bookreporter

Order your copy of Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir .

Picture: Flickr/ Trauma and Dissociation

Politics / News, ptsd, Uncategorized

Seeking Help at the VA for PTSD

PTSD Rally

War veterans are the ones who usually develop PTSD. This can occur while they are still working with the military or after. Thankfully, the Department of Veterans Affairs has several programs that can help retired soldiers cope up with PTSD. From diagnosing the common symptoms to intensive treatment, the VA has you covered. Moreover, they also employ numerous mental health professionals who relentlessly research on new and effective ways to help PTSD patients and their families.

In this post, you will learn more about the Department of Veterans Affairs’ PTSD treatment programs and how you can apply for help.

Eligibility for VA PTSD Services

Every war veteran has a chance to be eligible for the VA’s PTSD services. Here are the factors that can affect your eligibility:

  • You managed to perform active military services when you were in the Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, or Army.
  • You were discharged by the military under honorable conditions.
  • You are part of the National Guard or Reservist corps and you completed a federal deployment in a combat area.

However, you should also take note of the following:

  • Health care services are also available for veterans who did not serve in combat.
  • You can still use the veteran’s health care services, even on non-medical injuries or health concerns that are connected to military service.
  • The benefits that you get from another health care system are different from the benefits at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • The health care facilities at VA hospitals are available for both men and women. 

Available PTSD Treatments

Thanks to the advancements in medicine and technology, veterans suffering from PTSD can choose from a variety of treatments. Below is a list of mental health treatments offered by the VA:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

This one is a type of counseling method and is considered as one of the most effective methods for treating PTSD. The VA offers two types of therapies under CBT. One is the Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and the other one is Prolonged Exposure treatment.

CPT will teach you effective ways for handling any distressing thoughts that come in your head. Therapists can walk you through your previous experience (in a safe manner) and help you understand the situation better. If you know how the traumatic experience changed your outlook and behavior, it will be easier for you to cope with it.

CPT has four main processes:

  • Diagnose any PTSD symptoms and learn how the therapy can help
  • Gaining more awareness about your inner feelings
  • Cognitive restructuring – the processes of challenging your thoughts and feelings
  • Understanding the sudden changes in your beliefs after facing a traumatic experience

Aside from frequent meetings with a mental health professional, you will also be given practice exercises that will develop your emotional and cognitive well-being, even when you’re outside the therapist’s office.

The second option for the CBT is the Exposure Therapy. As the name implies, this treatment requires the patients to be repeatedly exposed to any feelings or situations that they have been avoiding. This will teach war veterans that not everything that reminds them of a traumatic event should be avoided.

After identifying all of the situations that you commonly avoid, your therapist will require you to confront all of them until your stress levels or fears decrease.

Similar with the CPT, the Exposure Therapy also has four parts:

  • Educating yourself about the symptoms of PTSD and how Exposure Therapy can help you out
  • Training how to breathe. This may sound like a silly task, but it is actually an effective relaxation technique that will help you overcome stress.
  • Facing the normal and safe situations that you commonly avoid. The more you become exposed to these situations, the easier it will be to get over your PTSD.
  • Discussing the traumatic experience and learning how to control your thoughts and feelings.

Exposure Therapy requires around 15 sessions with your therapist and practice assignments that you need to do on your own. As time goes by, you will be able to control your reactions when faced with stressful situations.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

In this type of therapy, you will be required to focus your attention on hand gestures while you are discussing the traumatic events that triggered PTSD symptoms.

When our eyes are following fast movements, it becomes easier for our brains to process traumatic events. If you have other things to focus on while discussing these memories, your behavior will change as time goes by. It will also help that you relax and efficiently handle any emotional distress in the future.

EMDR is composed of four parts:

  • Identifying the traumatic memory or belief that triggered any negative reactions
  • Learning how to desensitize yourself when recalling traumatic memories. In this stage, you will create mental images while performing eye movements that your therapist will teach you
  • Reinforcing positive thoughts
  • Undergoing a body scan. The therapist will focus on tension in your body in order to determine the additional issues that you need to face in the future.

After the EMDR sessions, you will have a more positive outlook when recalling traumatic events in your life. It usually takes around four sessions with a therapist to see the improvements.

PTSD Services offered by the VA

  • Thorough mental health testing
  • Providing medications
  • One-on-one psychotherapy sessions
  • Therapy sessions for the family
  • Conducting of group therapy sessions. The topics covered in these sessions include stress management, searching for combat support, and strengthening relationships with the family. There are also support groups for war veterans with a specific type of trauma.

The treatments offered by the VA are thoroughly researched to make sure that they are effective on war veterans. However, please be reminded that the programs offered may vary per VA hospital. In some cases, the treatments may also need a referral. Your personal physician can guide you in selecting the program that suits you best.

Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir

In this dark humored War Memoir, Iraq veteran Michael Anthony discusses his return from war and how he defeated his PTSD. Civilianized is a must read for any veteran, or anyone who knows a veteran, who has returned from war and suffered through Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

dark humored military memoir“An intense memoir.” -Kirkus

“I wont soon forget this book.” -Mary Roach

“A must read.” -Colby Buzzell

“[S]mart and mordantly funny.” –Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Anthony delivers a dose of reality that can awaken the mind…” Bookreporter

Order your copy of Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir .

Picture: Flickr/Army Medicine

Best Of, Politics / News, ptsd, Uncategorized

11 Common PTSD Myths Debunked

female veterans with PTSD

One challenge that victims of PTSD have to face is the judgment of other people due to misinformation. Because of the myths surrounding this medical condition, the relationships of the patient with his or her loved ones are often strained.

The prejudice and maltreatment of PTSD patients have been around ever since human beings started to wage wars against each other. Even though extensive research has already been conducted regarding the psychological effects of war on soldiers, there is still a lot to learn about PTSD. That is the reason why these myths are still proliferating.

So to help you better understand combat-related PTSD, here are several myths that were already debunked a long time ago:

Having PTSD means you are mentally weak

This myth is one of the oldest and most difficult to combat. Having this type of condition is not a sign of mental weakness, or even weakness of character. Aside from the internal strength of an individual, there are a lot of factors that can affect the development of PTSD. Examples of this are the type of trauma, circumstance, duration, and the number of traumatic events that happened throughout a person’s lifetime.

PTSD also occurs when the individual does not have a solid interpersonal support system. Sadly, a lot of war veterans do not get the support that they need because of social stigma and misunderstanding.

Any experience can be a traumatic one

It is true that a lot of events that happen to us can become stressful. However, there are still several criteria that need to be met before calling a certain event as “traumatic.”

The criteria are as follows:

  1. Being exposed to sexual violence or near death events that may lead to serious injuries.
  2. The person must directly or indirectly be involved in the traumatic experience, or he has witnessed it in person.

When you say indirectly exposed, this pertains to hearing and seeing the details of the traumatizing experience. An example of this one is the drone pilots. They may not be in the middle of the warzone, but they are still exposed to the horrors of the battlefield because of the things that they see and hear on the screen. In addition, they also enter and exit the war zone regularly.

A person can easily develop PTSD after being exposed to a traumatic incident

When faced with a traumatic experience, you can expect that you will be mentally, emotionally, and physically stressed. However, it does not mean that you will already develop PTSD immediately. In order to be diagnosed with this condition, the feelings of extreme fatigue, stress, or anxiety should last for more than a month. In addition, people who suffer from PTSD also find it difficult to focus on their work and personal life.

People who suffer from PTSD are automatically crazy and extremely dangerous

Class war movies and sensationalized news reports have taught us that war veterans suffering from PTSD are crazy and should be avoided at all costs. Keep in mind that this stereotype is entirely wrong. This type of condition should never be associated with psychosis and extreme violence. PTSD is mostly about abrupt mood changes and reliving distressing memories. Never use the word crazy when talking about patients suffering from this condition because it damages their reputation and stigmatizes them further.

People with this condition are completely useless in work environments

A lot of soldiers do not want to seek treatment for PTSD because they fear that they will lose their ranks in the military. This is also the same with other workers who have developed the same condition.

Sadly, what people do not know is that they can still keep their regular jobs while getting PTSD treatments at the same time. One should not be too scared when diagnosed with this condition because it is very manageable.

PTSD is easy to get over with as time goes by

Thanks to modern PTSD treatments, it is now easier for war veterans to return to their normal lives. However, this condition does not instantly go away once you take some anti-depressants. Sometimes, conquering PTSD is a life-long journey. While most people learn to cope on their own, a lot of patients still seek professional guidance every once in a while.

War veterans who developed PTSD are not considered as part of the “wounded soldiers”

That is because you cannot see any huge scars or other types of physical injuries. However, one should remember that veterans with PTSD have made a lot of sacrifices to protect the country. Psychological injuries are quite the same with the physical ones. Both are collateral war damages that are inevitable.

You cannot do anything for war veterans (or other people) suffering from PTSD

This condition is actually very responsive to treatment. And with the advancement of medical technology, there is currently a multitude of ways to treat PTSD. If your current treatment does not work for you, you can still choose other options like cognitive behavioral therapy or prolonged exposure treatment. Seeking help from a professional is the first step in choosing an option that works best for you.

PTSD only targets a specific age group

Keep in mind that children can also experience PTSD. But as discussed in Chapter 1, their symptoms may vary depending on their age.

You only need one treatment for PTSD

Not necessarily. The type and complexity of the treatment will still depend on the person suffering from this condition. If he is showing severe symptoms, it means that he may have to undergo different types of therapies. Doctors may also ask him to take several antidepressants.

Therapies never work

Therapies are effective at treating patients because it helps them understand what PTSD is all about. It also helps health professionals to assess the patient and develop ways to help them cope with their situation. With methods such as exposure therapy and cognitive behavior therapy, people with PTSD will learn how to face their fears and deal with bad memories in a healthier and safe manner.

Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir

In this dark humored War Memoir, Iraq veteran Michael Anthony discusses his return from war and how he defeated his PTSD. Civilianized is a must read for any veteran, or anyone who knows a veteran, who has returned from war and suffered through Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

dark humored military memoir“An intense memoir.” -Kirkus

“I wont soon forget this book.” -Mary Roach

“A must read.” -Colby Buzzell

“[S]mart and mordantly funny.” –Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Anthony delivers a dose of reality that can awaken the mind…” Bookreporter

Order your copy of Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir .

Picture: Flickr/MilitaryHealth

Best Of, Blogishness, ptsd, Uncategorized

What exactly is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Uncle Sam PTSD for Veterans

What is PTSD?

Posttraumatic stress disorder, or more commonly known as PTSD, is a type of debilitating medical condition that usually occurs to individuals who have undergone a very traumatic incident.

A traumatic event is something terrible that you’ve seen, heard, or experienced first-hand. This includes:

  • Exposure to war
  • Terrorist incident
  • Sexual assault
  • Physical abuse
  • Life-threatening accident
  • Natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes.

Most people experience symptoms such as extreme anxiety, difficulties in sleeping, or having nightmares after a traumatic incident. However, not everyone will have PTSD. You can only tell if you have the condition if the common symptoms get worse as time goes by.

How PTSD Develops

Everyone who has experienced a terrifying incident will have the common symptoms of anxiety during the early stages. However, only a handful will experience PTSD as time goes by. There is still no accurate answer as to why only some people develop PTSD in their lifetime.

There are several factors that might increase your chances of having this mental condition:

  • The intensity of the trauma
  • If you, or your loved ones, acquire major injuries after an accident or disaster
  • Your proximity to the event
  • The level of your reaction during the traumatic event
  • Your level of control during the event
  • The type and frequency of the support that you get after experiencing the traumatic event

 Common Symptoms of PTSD

The symptoms of this debilitating mental condition commonly starts after the person experiences any terrifying incident. However, it will take months or years before these symptoms intensify. In addition, they may also disappear and reappear over several years.

Below is a list of the most common symptoms of PTSD. If these symptoms persist for more than a month, or if they are disrupting your work and home life routine, there’s a big chance that you have PTSD.

  1. You keep re-experiencing/reliving the traumatic event

This usually occurs in the form of nightmares or horrifying memories. In some cases, you may also experience flashbacks. These are moments wherein you feel like you are going through the traumatic event again. Compared to a nightmare, flashbacks are usually more vivid.

  1. You veer away from events that remind you of the traumatic experience

As much as possible, you try to avoid any situations (or even other people) that might trigger any bad memories. In addition, you may even attempt to stop thinking about the traumatic event.

  1. Sudden negative changes on feelings and behavior

Because of the disturbing event that happened to you before, you may suddenly find yourself feeling a lot of guilt, fear, and shame. Another common symptom of PTSD is that your enthusiasms for activities that you loved doing in the past suddenly faded.

  1. You feel too jittery

This excessive feeling of alertness is more commonly known as hyper arousal. Even if the environment is guaranteed 100% safe, your body remains tense and alert. In addition, you are always on the lookout for danger. Another symptom of hyper arousal is difficulty in sleeping or concentrating.

Can children also experience PTSD?

Sadly, even the little ones can also have PTSD when faced with horrifying experiences. The symptoms may be similar with the ones mentioned above, but there might still be slight changes depending on their age. Once the kids grow older, they will experience PTSD symptoms that are similar to that of the adults.

These are just some of the common signs that your children are experiencing PTSD:

  1. Kids age 6 years and below tend to feel upset when their parents are not around. They also tend to have some trouble sleeping or going to the comfort room by themselves.
  2. Kids age 7 to 11 relive their traumatic experiences stories and drawings. They also experience nightmares. As they grow up, they tend to become more aggressive. Kids who experience PTSD show disinterest in going to school and even playing with their friends.
  3. Kids age 12 and up experience PTSD symptoms that are similar to adults. This includes withdrawal, substance abuse, running away from home, and anxiety.

Other problems experienced by people with PTSD

It is not just the anxiety attacks, nightmares, and flashbacks that PTSD victims have to endure. Other problems that they might experience include:

  • Extreme feelings of despair and shame
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse and alcoholism
  • Chronic pain
  • Problems with balancing work and home life
  • Problems in maintaining good relationships with people

Usually, these other problems can be fixed when the patient undergoes the standard PTSD treatment because they are somewhat related. Once you master the coping skills from PTSD therapy sessions, it will be easier for you to handle these problems.

Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir

In this dark humored War Memoir, Iraq veteran Michael Anthony discusses his return from war and how he defeated his PTSD. Civilianized is a must read for any veteran, or anyone who knows a veteran, who has returned from war and suffered through Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

dark humored military memoir“An intense memoir.” -Kirkus

“I wont soon forget this book.” -Mary Roach

“A must read.” -Colby Buzzell

“[S]mart and mordantly funny.” –Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Anthony delivers a dose of reality that can awaken the mind…” Bookreporter

Order your copy of Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir .

ptsd, Self Improvement / Healthy Living, Uncategorized

Why Does My Military Spouse Have PTSD?

military spouses hugging

Why does my military spouse have PTSD?

Do you have any idea what PTSD is? Let’s paint this kind of picture: A young man is on verge of graduating on high school. He had a good family and decided to serve the country as a military man. Before he entered the military school, he has no prior history of mental health issues or substance abuse. He successfully joined the military and was given the combatant role. He was trained with the only purpose of striking out violence for the benefit of his country. He was repeatedly placed in situations where he strikes out violence and is rewarded intrinsically, extrinsically, and monetarily. The wartime traumatic events exposed him to the stress that leads to the PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) development. He then leaves the military service and is anticipated to leave everything behind with a small transitional aid. The post-traumatic disorder makes the life and transition difficult. Drug and alcohol abuse helps ease those kinds of symptoms. He then becomes very dependent on drugs and alcohol decreasing his ability to effectively cope up and increasing his problems. This young man, who happens to be your spouse, is now in a very dangerous place socially, physically, and mentally. His coping skills still consists of substance abuse, violence, and compartmentalizing, which are signs and symptoms of PTSD that can lead to legal and family problems.

According so some researches about post-traumatic stress disorder, it has a high correlation to substance abuse. As a matter of fact, 34.5% of post-traumatic disorder diagnosed men have problems on substance abuse, specifically with drug, and 51.9% post-traumatic disorder diagnosed have substance abuse related with alcohol; figures that qualifies nearly all our returning veterans with post-traumatic disorder perfect for treatment for substance abuse. Other researches showed that 4 out of 5 war veterans that have suffered from post-traumatic disorder have re-occurring disorders of substance abuse.

The fact that there’s such a huge correlation is not really surprising, especially to those patients who completely knows or deals with PTSD patient, but many people still ask why this’s the case. Actually, there are 3 theories that the researchers established with the high correlation between the substance abuse or drug and alcohol addiction and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The research supports the entire theories by differs among the demographic of post-traumatic disorder.

High Risk Theory

This theory on high risk states that the drug and/or alcohol addiction occurs before the disorder’s development. This has the idea that the abuse on substance leads to the activities with high risks and that or some of these events lead to PTSD development. While this may be true to some cases, the military veterans aren’t likely to be taking drugs and/or alcohol during or prior to the traumatic combat events or experiences.

Susceptibility Theory

Another theory is the susceptibility theory which states that there’s something with the drug and/or alcohol abuse that increasing the susceptibility of a person for post-traumatic disorder development following the traumatic experience. While it’s not exactly known what this might be there are available theories for review before doing further research. The substance abuse does alter the normal structures and functioning of systems in the body; these kinds of facts are the grounds for this theory’s foundation.

Shared Vulnerability Theory

This theory states that some of the people may possibly have genetic vulnerability that leads to develop both the substance abuse and PTSD after a traumatic experience. This also states that patients might develop both of the symptoms after the traumatic experience, while some who lacks this susceptibility in genetic might not.

Self-Medication Theory

This states that the people who are suffering from the post-traumatic stress disorder use substances in order to cope up with the symptoms and signs of the disorder. For example, the individuals might use the euphoric drugs in order to deal with their depression, or utilize depressants such as benzodiazepines or alcohol in order to deal with the anxiety. Either of the ways, these individuals use self-medication methods in order to deal with the PTSD distress. This theory is based on the actual conversations of the author to the veterans and the personal experience that this’s case with most of the returning military veterans that suffers both conditions.

Regarding what theory applies to your spouse, there’s a definitely correlation between the post-traumatic disorder and substance abuse; many of these happens especially with our returning military veterans. Often, they find solace by drinking alcohol and using drug in order to cope up with the distress but over time, they will only find that their problems have just increased. These individuals will lead to chemical dependencies which in time will be too hard to control.

PTSD in our military spouses has been shown to display itself through hardship in controlling the irritability, anger, self-medicating with drugs and/or alcohol, and the high risks and reckless behaviors; an old concerning group of problems that are only aggravated by drugs and/or alcohol dependency. Now, cover this with an altered moral state and decreased inhibition that is developed in the mind of all combatant and much more problems develop. This is a kind of individual that is in great need of comprehensive care, yet many still go untreated.

Why are there are too many veterans that suffer from this disorder? Don’t they want to get better? Do they lack enough knowledge in order to understand what’s really going on? Are we, people in the society not effectively doing our part for them? It’s very important for these individuals to seek services though capable medical institutions to handle both their PTSD and substance abuse.

Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir

In this dark humored War Memoir, Iraq veteran Michael Anthony discusses his return from war and how he defeated his PTSD. Civilianized is a must read for any veteran, or anyone who knows a veteran, who has returned from war and suffered through Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

dark humored military memoir“An intense memoir.” -Kirkus

“I wont soon forget this book.” -Mary Roach

“A must read.” -Colby Buzzell

“[S]mart and mordantly funny.” –Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Anthony delivers a dose of reality that can awaken the mind…” Bookreporter

Order your copy of Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir .

Photo: Flickr/NCNGPAO

Blogishness, ptsd, Self Improvement / Healthy Living, Self Improvement / Healthy Living, Uncategorized

Why All Soldiers Need To Be Stoic Philosophers

soldiers paying respect to fallen friend

Many people entering the military may feel influenced by people around them. They get encouraged to undertake a guise of being ‘mentally tough,’ so they can succeed. Eventually, they learn that acting tough isn’t enough to successfully cope with the things that may occur around them.

A lot of soldiers today underestimate the importance of mental preparation for handing experiences in the military. However, some have suggested that the U.S. Military should start teaching the principles of stoicism to trainees. While a number of soldiers do get exposed to stoic principles from the beginning, others don’t learn what stoic philosophy can do for them as people.

So, why should today’s soldiers believe in a relatively unconventional belief system? As we’ve explained in other articles, stoicism has the potential to be incredibly powerful to a group of soldiers. In the most basic terms, stoicism teaches people that ‘whatever happens has happened as a result of forces they can’t control, and has no real effect on their character.’

Soldiers, especially those who enter the military unprepared, can learn how to accept what happens to them if they adopt a stoic mindset. Stoic philosophy can instills that mindset within people. It inherently encourages people to respond without allowing external forces to influence their true character.

Why Modern Stoic Philosophers Suggest Stoicism for Coping with War

Until the 20th century, little was known about how war affected soldiers on a psychological level. Progress in mental health research helped mental health professionals discover the high occurrence of post traumatic stress disorder in soldiers. Following the Vietnam War, medical researchers began aggressively studying the psychological effects of war on people who have served in the various wars of the past, including those that still wage today.

PTSD causes people to develop what’s known as ‘traumatic functioning.’ This causes them to remain in a situation where they’re stuck acting out negative behaviors that prevents them from being their true character. People with PTSD often feel stuck in these ‘ways’ and feel powerless about getting out.

Soldiers who aren’t adequately prepared for their time in the military are prone to developing some type of traumatic functioning, which many don’t recognize as disordered thinking in any way. Stoicism, on the other hand, can help people break away from the cycle, helping them flourish as human beings again.

Why All Soldiers Need To Be Stoic Philosophers

In a previous article, we touched upon how stoicism can help soldiers accept their humanity. Many don’t know how to cope with being sent to war, especially if they’re deployed faster than they can take in the situation. A lot of soldiers in this situation choose to respond with negative feelings, usually fear and resentment. Stoicism, however, can help soldiers accept the inevitable. Accepting the inevitable is the most sobering thing about being human: being unable to influence outside forces, but being able to accept that what happens, happens.

Stoic philosophers also stress another important aspect of stoicism: the way people objectively act against nature determines their character. The idea is that people, while influenced by external forces, can choose to act objectively to preserve their character. What happens to us, whether affects us mentally or physically, doesn’t have any real bearing on our true character.

Soldiers who have lived through tough experiences can use stoicism to regain their confidence in life. The underlying principle of acceptance in stoicism plays a large role in helping soldiers to cope with traumatic experiences over time, eventually becoming stronger as a person and as a member of society.

Why Soldiers Need Stoicism Today

Stoicism, as we’ve mentioned throughout the article, can help soldiers become mentally resilient and accept the inevitability of life. The principles bought forth in this philosophy have played a long term role in not only the mindsets of war veterans, but the military as a whole.

Some would say that stoicism is the military’s unofficial philosophy. According to various records, texts and studies, that sentiment is very much true. Nancy Sherman’s The Stoic Warrior notably recollected how ‘stoicism is a driving force behind the military’s prevailing mindset, particularly due to its focus on self control, inner strength and endurance.’

In tough situations, soldiers may become isolated, imprisoned or abandoned without contact with others. The desolation and hopelessness of such situations often cause people to develop mental trauma—they’re left alone, captive with their negative thoughts, believing that they’re the one responsible for such an inevitability.

Stoic philosophers, however, argue that the principles of stoicism – self control, inner strength and endurance – helps soldiers positively accept and cope while stuck in a mentally and/or physically traumatizing situation. Many soldiers, even if they don’t know about stoicism, undertake such a mindset in order to survive.

Survival—it’s a sentiment that’s shared among many soldiers. Stoic philosophy has the potential to help soldiers cope with what happens to them while they’re enlisted. Not only can they develop the mental resilience and self control they need to survive, but it can also help them get through a world where they might think they don’t have help.

Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir

In this dark humored War Memoir, Iraq veteran Michael Anthony discusses his return from war and how he defeated his PTSD. Civilianized is a must read for any veteran, or anyone who knows a veteran, who has returned from war and suffered through Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

dark humored military memoir“An intense memoir.” -Kirkus

“I wont soon forget this book.” -Mary Roach

“A must read.” -Colby Buzzell

“[S]mart and mordantly funny.” –Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Anthony delivers a dose of reality that can awaken the mind…” Bookreporter

Order your copy of Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir .

Picture: Flickr/The National Guard