Veterans who go through combat situations often face many dangers in the line of duty. While it is normal to experience fear and anxiety after a traumatic experience, some veterans may find that their fear and anxiety affects their daily lives, even when they are no longer in any peril. When that happens, a person may be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD can begin anywhere from three months to a year or more after the traumatic experience. In order to be considered PTSD, the person’s symptoms must last at least one month or more and they must interfere with his or her ability to maintain relationships with others and work.
Symptoms of PTSD can be divided into four categories. There are cognition and mood symptoms, arousal and reactivity symptoms, avoidance symptoms and re-experiencing symptoms. In order for a person’s condition to be considered PTSD, he or she must experience all of these symptoms for at least one month. Cognition and mood symptoms can make a person feel detached from loved ones. They include difficulties remembering the traumatic event, having negative thoughts about the world or themselves, experiencing extreme guilt or blame and losing interest in activities once enjoyed.
Arousal and reactivity symptoms are often experienced all the time, rather than being triggered, making it difficult to perform daily tasks. They include being easily startled, feeling a lot of tension, having problems sleeping and experiencing angry outbursts. Avoidance symptoms are often triggered when a person experiences something that reminds him or her of the traumatic incident, leading the person to alter his or her normal routines. They include keeping away from places or things that remind the person of the event that caused the PTSD and avoiding thoughts or emotions relating to the traumatic incident.
Finally, there are re-experiencing symptoms. These include having flashbacks to the event that caused the PTSD, having nightmares and having frightening thoughts. These symptoms can make it difficult for a person to go about his or her regular routines.
Veterans who experience PTSD may find that they are unable to connect to people, go to work or even take care of daily tasks. When this happens, they may want to seek Social Security disability benefits. By doing so, veterans with PTSD may be able to secure the financial relief they need if their condition prevents them from working.
Source: National Institute of Mental Health, “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” accessed Feb. 4, 2016