Symptoms of Combat PTSD
Combat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder involves trauma as the result of extreme violence, whether that be being in a war, being the victim of gun violence, or other intense events. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder usually has similar symptoms across the board, regardless of what caused the disorder to develop. However, combat PTSD in particular has unique symptoms because of the unique and intense circumstances that led to the disorder.
Gun violence is the most common cause of combat PTSD, which is why the symptoms and results of combat can be so much more intense than normal Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Here are the most common symptoms of combat PTSD:
- nightmares and flashbacks that cause reliving of the incident
- trouble sleeping
- trouble concentrating
- unnecessarily angry and/or irritable towards others, especially loved ones
- feeling numb and emotionally empty or drained
- having triggers that cause flashbacks of the event
- physically violent
- being threatened by things that are harmless
- convinced that they need to carry a weapon
- thoughts of harming yourself or other people
- using substances to avoid feelings of sadness or paranoia
Combat PTSD: Families of Victims
The family is the most important source of support and love. Like many people who have mental health disorders, it can be hard to accept that you have a disorder and that you need to decide to receive treatment. That’s why the support from family and friends is crucial in helping victims receive the help that they need in recovering. Here are some of the best ways that loved ones can help victims of combat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:
- Educate yourself – teaching yourself about what to expect from PTSD, the triggers, and the symptoms can really help you to handle it in a helpful manner
- Encourage the victim to go and see a mental health professional. If they feel uneasy, offer to accompany them to their appointment
- Always be open to listening to whatever they have to say, as listening and being a support system can be extremely helpful to recovery
- Plan activities with your loved one to take their focus off their fixation on the event
- Remember that you shouldn’t push the victim to open up to you, as it can be extremely difficult for a PTSD victim to accept help of any kind
Treatments for PTSD
Like many mental illnesses, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has a variety of treatments that can aid in recovery. Therapy and medication have proven to be the most successful treatments for PTSD and they’ve been extremely beneficial when combined.
The typical therapy to combat PTSD involves identifying the triggers that induce symptoms like flashbacks and negative memories. After the triggers are recognized and understood, the patient is taught of different coping mechanisms that can help to decrease the intensity of or eliminate symptoms. Teaching the patient coping mechanisms can be especially helpful for those who have turned to substances like drugs, alcohol, and other harmful behaviors in order to cope with their experiences.
Medications for PTSD are similar to medications used to treat depression and anxiety in that they do similar things. A lot of the symptoms within PTSD are similar to depression and anxiety; in fact, some people with PTSD have depression or anxiety as a symptom. Just as it works with depression and anxiety, medications that work for Post-Traumatic Stress disorder focus on helping regulate mood. The most popular and successful class of medications are called SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors). SSRI’s increase the amount of serotonin in the brain, making it more available to the brain. This works because serotonin is a neurotransmitter that increases moods like happiness and content. By boosting the patient’s mood and making them happier overall, it makes recovery that much easier.