Post-traumatic stress disorder, called PTSD, is a condition that impacts people who have experienced trauma, such as combat, natural disaster, or abuse.
For veterans, PTSD is one of the most common mental health conditions, with an estimated 11 to 20 percent of service members who helped in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom diagnosed with PTSD in that given year.
PTSD can be treated in the United States. There are many options available for veterans to get the help they need.
This article will give ideas to explore the effective treatments for PTSD in veterans and how different treatment options can help our brave heroes.
PTSD impacts people who have shared a traumatic affair, such as combat, natural disaster, or abuse. The good news is PTSD is treatable.
This article will highlight the following key points:
- PTSD patients may feel lonely, irritable, and guilty, which leads to substance abuse.
- Veterans who have shared multiple deployments are at a higher risk of developing PTSD.
- According to the DSM-5, a diagnosis of PTSD needs exposure to a traumatic brain injury.
- CBT for PTSD involves two main parts that are exposure therapy and cognitive restructuring.
- Antidepressants can help veterans to reduce the signs of depression and anxiety.
Understanding PTSD in Veterans
Before we delve into the treatments for PTSD, let’s first learn what PTSD is and how it affects veterans.
PTSD is a mental health state that develops after a person has shared or witnessed a traumatic event. Through nightmares and flashbacks, a person with PTSD frequently relives the terrible event.
They may feel lonely, irritable, and guilty. They might also have trouble concentrating and have sleep issues, such as insomnia.
For veterans, PTSD is a common mental health condition resulting from exposure to combat and other traumatic events during their military service. In this section, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and diagnosis of PTSD in veterans.
Symptoms of PTSD in Veterans
The symptoms of PTSD can vary from person to person, but common symptoms in veterans include the following:
- Intrusive mind views or memories of the traumatic event
- Avoid people, spots, or things that recall them of the traumatic event
- Negative thoughts or feelings, such as guilt or shame
- Hypervigilance or exaggerated startle response
- Nightmares or flashbacks that are related to the traumatic event
PTSD symptoms can be severe and impact all aspects of a veteran’s daily life, including their relationships, work, and overall well-being.
Causes of PTSD in Veterans
PTSD can occur by different causes. It can occur through exposure to a wide range of traumatic events.
The events may include war trauma, sexual assault, physical abuse, or natural disasters. In military veterans, PTSD is often caused by exposure to battle or other traumatic events during their military service.
Veterans who have shared multiple deployments or been exposed to intense combat are at a higher risk of developing PTSD. As a nation, we should care for them because they served us.
Diagnosis of PTSD in Veterans
To diagnose PTSD in veterans, healthcare experts will use the criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
According to the DSM-5, a diagnosis of PTSD needs exposure to a traumatic affair. It also requires specific symptoms, such as intrusive views, avoidance behaviors, and negative thoughts or feelings.
Veterans need to seek a proper diagnosis if they are undergoing symptoms of PTSD. A healthcare expert can help veterans define the best mental health treatment course based on their needs and symptoms.
PTSD Treatment Options for Veterans
PTSD can be debilitating and impact all aspects of a veteran’s life. However, many treatment options are available to help veterans manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. This section will explore two of the most common PTSD treatment options for veterans, therapy, and medication.
Therapy is one of the most valuable treatments for PTSD. There are many different types of therapy available, but some of the most common include the following:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the best form of psychotherapy that has proven effective in treating various mental health problems, including PTSD.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a structured and goal-oriented therapy. It helps patients focus and change their thoughts and behavior patterns, improving their symptoms.
For veterans with PTSD, CBT is a potent treatment option. It can help them learn to manage their symptoms by teaching them coping skills, ease techniques, and ways to challenge their negative thoughts.
CBT for PTSD involves two main parts that are exposure therapy and cognitive restructuring.
Exposure therapy is vital to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for PTSD. It is highly effective in reducing PTSD symptoms in veterans.
In therapy, vets are guided by their therapist to face the memories and triggers linked with their traumatic experiences.
It helps vets face their fears and memories of the traumatic event in a safe and calm atmosphere. It also helps to reduce anxiety and fear over time.
The process involves creating a hierarchy of anxiety-provoking cases. This approach helps them slowly gain control over their emotional reactions.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is used to help veterans process traumatic memories. EMDR uses bilateral stimulation, like eye movements or tapping. Tapping or eye signs are for the brain to process the traumatic event.
During an EMDR session, veterans are asked to recall the event while the therapist guides them through eye signs or other forms of bilateral stimulation.
Bilateral stimulation is thought to boost the brain’s natural healing methods. This type of therapy allows the veteran to reprocess the event less distressingly. It can also help to reduce the emotional reaction linked to the traumatic event.
EMDR is thought to work by allowing the brain to process the traumatic event more quickly rather than getting “stuck” in the memory of the event.
It can help the veteran to process and merge the traumatic experience into their overall life narrative. EMDR allows them to move forward more positively and quickly.
Group therapy can be a vital tool for veterans struggling with PTSD. In group therapy, veterans can link with others who have shared similar traumas, share their incidents, and gain peer support and motivation.
Group therapy is led by a mental health services’ expert, trained to ease group meetings and help veterans grow coping skills to manage their PTSD symptoms.
The group can meet regularly. It allows veterans to build relationships with each other and create a sense of community.
One of the potential benefits of group therapy is that veterans can learn from each other’s similar experiences. They can share coping skills and discuss plans for managing triggers. Most of all, they can provide feedback and support to one another.
Group therapy also provides a safe and controlled atmosphere for veterans to express their emotions and feelings, which can be challenging in other settings.
Group therapy is healthy for veterans who feel isolated or confused. It can help them build new social ties, improving their overall quality of life.
In addition, group therapy can be more cost-effective than individual therapy, making it an accessible option for veterans with limited financial resources.
Medication For Veterans
Medication can also be used to treat PTSD. The most used medicines for PTSD may include:
Antidepressants can help cut off the signs of depression and anxiety. They are common in veterans with PTSD. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and other serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are some of the antidepressants for PTSD that are most often used.
Prazosin is a medicine often prescribed to help combat nightmares. It also improves sleep in veterans struggling with PTSD.
Benzodiazepines are a type of medication that can help reduce anxiety. They are usually not advised for long-term use due to the risk of addiction. It is advised to talk to a doctor before using the medicine.
Alternative Therapies For Veterans
In addition to traditional therapy and medication, alternative therapies can be vital to help veterans control their symptoms of PTSD. These therapies include:
- Mindfulness and meditation plans can help veterans learn to focus on the present moment. It also helps to reduce anxiety and stress
- Yoga merges physical movements with breathing tactics. It can help veterans reduce anxiety signs
- Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine practice. It involves inserting tiny needles into specific points on the body to help reduce pain and stress
- Animal-assisted therapy involves working with animals, such as dogs or horses. It helps to reduce symptoms of PTSD and improve overall well-being
PTSD is a severe condition that can significantly impact an individual’s life. Sometimes, seeking help for PTSD can be challenging. Veterans must take the necessary steps to address their symptoms.
It can include seeking support from family, friends, and healthcare experts and using available resources to access treatment. With proper treatment, vets can learn to manage their symptoms and lead productive lives.
At The Haven Detox-South Florida, we owe a lot of gratitude to our veterans who sacrificed so much in service to our country. We try our best to provide them the care and support they need to address their challenges, including PTSD.
By working together, we can help improve our veterans’ lives and ensure they receive the care and respect they deserve.
The Importance of Seeking Help
Veterans must seek professional help if they are experiencing symptoms of PTSD. There can be several reasons why a veteran may be reluctant to seek help, such as stigma, fear of being seen as weak, or concerns about confidentiality.
These concerns can make it hard for veterans to seek the care they need, even if they know they need help. It’s vital for friends, family members, and healthcare professionals to support veterans and encourage them to seek help if they are experiencing symptoms of PTSD.
Motivational steps may include:
- Providing information about available resources
- Expressing a willingness to listen
- Avoiding judgment or attaching stigma
Overall, seeking professional help is critical for veterans experiencing PTSD symptoms. Although it can be challenging to take the first step, seeking help can significantly improve a veteran’s quality of life.
If you are a veteran struggling with PTSD, consider contacting a mental health professional or speaking to someone you trust for help.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What are three treatments for PTSD?
There are various options available to help people who are struggling with PTSD. Three of the most commonly used treatments include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Exposure Therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).
CBT helps patients leave harmful habits.
Exposure therapy aids patients in facing their anxieties and traumatic memories.
Eye movements are used in EMDR treatment to aid patients in processing their traumatic memories.
Each of these treatments can be useful in helping people with their PTSD symptoms. They can improve their quality of life. It’s vital for people toiling with PTSD to seek professional help to choose the best treatment method according to their case.
What is the most successful treatment for PTSD?
There isn’t a single most successful treatment for PTSD, as what works best for one person may not work as well for another.
However, research has shown that combining treatments, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), can be beneficial for combating PTSD symptoms.
Exposure therapy is another treatment option that is effective for some people. It’s vital for people toiling with PTSD to work with a mental health expert to decide the best treatment course for their unique situation.
What’s most important is that people must seek professional help. They can manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life with proper advice.
What therapies are available for PTSD in veterans?
There are several therapies available for veterans who are experiencing the symptoms of PTSD.
CBT is a therapy that helps veterans learn to manage their symptoms. It allows them to learn by changing harmful thoughts, habits, and manners.
EMDR therapy uses eye practices to help veterans to process their traumatic memories.
Exposure therapy allows veterans to face their fears and memories of the traumatic event.
In addition, group therapy can be a helpful way for veterans to link with others who are going through similar traumas. Veterans must work with a mental health professional to determine the best treatment approach.
Veteran Treatment Programs at The Haven Detox-South Florida
PTSD is a severe condition that can affect every aspect of a veteran’s life, including their relationships, work, and overall well-being.
The Haven Detox-South Florida can help alleviate some of the concerns that may prevent a veteran from seeking help by discussing confidentiality, providing information about treatment plans, and addressing any questions or concerns.
The Haven Detox-South Florida has been treating addiction for more than 20 years. We offer a complete continuum of SMART Recovery therapy and medical benefits, which means we manage all addictions from moderate to severe.