Combat situations can be very damaging mentally for service members. One mental illness that can plague a service member after they return from war is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It’s an equal opportunity disorder affecting individuals across the nation. Sometimes, the symptoms of PTSD manifest themselves as soon as the veteran returns to civilian life, which could then last their entire lifetime. However, a veteran may experiences symptoms of PTSD right after returning to civilian life. And, even if they can overcome PTSD initially, those symptoms can reappear later in life.
There are four main symptoms that may manifest themselves in those with PTSD. First, the veteran may find him or herself reliving the traumatic event. This could happen suddenly in any place. For example, an individual may have nightmares or flashbacks to the traumatic event. Certain sights, noises or smells could trigger a flashback, as could news reports.
A second symptom of PTSD is staying away from situations that might remind one of the traumatic event. For example, being in a large crowd could make a veteran with PTSD feel like he or she is in danger. Or, a veteran with PTSD may not want to drive if their traumatic experience involved their convoy being attacked.
A third symptom of PTSD is having negative changes in one’s core beliefs and feelings. The veteran may lose the positive relationships with others that they once had, and may avoid making relationships altogether. They may even feel like the whole world is dangerous, and that it is not possible to trust anyone.
Finally, the fourth symptom of PTSD is feeling hyper-aroused, or “keyed up.” The veteran may find him or herself feeling like he or she always has to be on alert for dangerous situations. This could also make a veteran irritable or angry. Hyperarousal could interfere with a veteran’s ability to sleep or concentrate. The veteran could also be easily startled, or feel like they always need a wall at their back.
PTSD can last a long time, causing the veteran great distress, including keeping them from having a normal work life, or even just get by day-to-day. If a veteran’s PTSD is so severe that it makes it impossible for that veteran to hold down a job, the veteran may want to determine whether he or she could seek Social Security Disability benefits to help him or her cope financially.