PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is a mental health disorder that can occur after an individual experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. Trauma can be both physical and psychological, and usually causes the individual to fear for his life or the lives of others. Traumatic events cause a person to feel like they have zero control over their surroundings and this horrifying experience can cause serious effects.
Not everyone who undergoes a trauma will develop PTSD. Some individuals will have very minor reactions, the effect on other’s will be short-lived and less debilitating, but some individuals will not be able to get past the traumatic event and their stress-related reactions will actually worsen over time.
Soldiers are exposed to high-levels of both physical and psychological trauma. Combat exposure, terrorist attacks, deployments, mobilization, accidents, injury, and the constant state of feeling “on-guard” or threatened by an attacker can create an environment filled with stress and trauma.
According to research from the US Department of Veterans Affairs, one in five veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are diagnosed with PTSD, totaling over 300,000 veterans in the year 2012 alone. In addition suicide rates among active-duty military personnel averaged one per day in 2012. Suicide rates among soldiers have increased by 80% and veterans now account for 20% of the total suicide population in the US. Even more disheartening is that soldiers and veterans aged 24 and younger are committing suicide at a rate four times that of older soldiers and veterans.
PTSD in soldiers is characterized by four major symptoms that include:
The symptoms of PTSD in soldiers can be quite debilitating in all areas of their life. Many problems may result if PTSD goes untreated, including: depression, anxiety, self-hatred, intense feelings of guilt, shame, and hopelessness, substance abuse or addictive behavior, relationship troubles, employment problems, poor physical health, chronic pain and more. The cruel symptoms of PTSD are a significant influence on the high-rates of suicide among active-duty soldiers and veterans. There are, however, numerous treatment options for PTSD sufferers, as well as preventative treatments to help individuals from ever reaching this point.
There are several treatment options for soldiers with PTSD, and depending on the soldier’s condition, co-occurring issues, and other factors, the “right” treatment options will vary. Sometimes a singular treatment option may be enough, but in many instances a combination of treatments will be most effective. This also helps prevent drug dependence and addiction.
EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a therapy that involves focusing on sound or hand movements while the affected individual discusses the trauma. A therapist will guide rapid rhythmic eye movements by using hand or finger motions, hand or toe tapping, or musical tones while transitioning from disturbing emotional experiences to positive ones. It hopes to gradually weaken the disturbance and severity of traumatic memories and weaken the effect of negative emotions. EMDR has proven to be highly-effective at treating PTSD in soldiers as well as eating disorders, panic attacks, addictions, and anxiety.
For help finding EMDR and other treatment options for yourself or a loved one with PTSD, please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline now. Our recovery professionals can assist you with all your questions, concerns, and needs, as well as help find and connect you with the treatment programs and services that will work best for you.