It is not uncommon for returning veterans to face difficulties adjusting to civilian life, one difficulty many veterans face is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Post Traumatic Stress Disorder results from exposure to an event that causes an intense fear and helplessness. It is a combat injury, not a sign of weakness or character problem. While all those suffering for PTSD experience it differently, there are common symptoms:
Avoidance and Emotional Numbing
Those who have lived through a traumatic event naturally try to suppress the memory or pain, and may find it difficult to relate to those in their lives. Individuals experiencing avoidance and emotional numbness may lose interest in activities they once enjoyed, are unable to remember important aspects of the trauma, and left with a feeling of detachment from others – including loved ones.
Re-experiencing the Event
Despite your best efforts to forget, you may still have intense memories of the event. You may have nightmares or experience flashbacks (intense feeling you are re-living the event). Physical reactions such as sweating, pounding heart, nausea and muscle tension may also accompany these memories.
At one point, being on guard and alert was what kept you alive. However, as a civilian, constantly being on red alert can have a negative impact on your life and wellbeing. You may find yourself irritable and having outbursts of anger, difficulty sleeping and concentrating, as well as being easily startled.
Additional symptoms can include depression, irritability, shame, substance abuse, and feelings of mistrust and betrayal.
To learn more about PTSD, or to complete a self-screening, go to: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/what-if-think-have-ptsd.asp. The self-screening is not a substitute for medical evaluation and diagnosis. If you suspect or feel you are suffering from PTSD, see your primary care physician.