Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), previously called battle fatigue syndrome or shell shock, is a mental health issue which can affect can affect soldiers and their families. Veterans who have PTSD have reported a greater number of problems with adjusting to family life, parenting skills and marital relationships. According to research, less than half of the soldiers who have reported PTSD symptoms are getting the help they need and their relationships have a higher incidence of ending in divorce.
PTSD – What is it?
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder occurs after an individual has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. During this event the person's life was in threat or there was a perceived threat. It is natural for any person to have stress related symptoms after a traumatic event. A difference with PTSD and soldiers is that s/he continues to experience symptoms after a month; some service members continue to experience symptoms for years.
This type of trauma destroys the sense of safety and security a person previously had. With survivors of PTSD it is not uncommon for not only the symptoms to persist, but may actually increase with time. A person experiencing PTSD is in psychological shock and may find it difficult to stop to think and process the trauma in a healthy way.
Signs of PTSD for Soldiers & Veterans
Signs of PTSD may be difficult to track. Symptoms can appear over time or suddenly. At moments it can seem that syptoms appear out of nowhere. There are triggers which can put the solider back into the traumatic event such as: smells, sounds, images or even certain words.
Some signs associated with PTSD include:
- Excessive emotions: outbursts of anger, difficulty relating to others, nightmares, hallucinations and flashbacks.
- Avoidance: places, people, situations. A detachment from life and friends.
- Elevated anxiety: difficulty sleeping, easily startled and difficulty concentrating.
This is not an exhaustive list. For more information please seek the help of a professional.
After time, the burden of being a caregiver for a military person who experienced PTSD can erode away at the relationship. Almost 40% of the marital relationships of Vietnam veterans with PTSD ended up being dissolved within six months of returning home. The greater the severity of the PTSD has been equated with a greater strain on the spouse and family.
The military does offer some programs to help individuals dealing with PTSD. A good place to look for help is VA caregiver support. Also, Fields of Combat is a book written about Iraqi war veterans living with PTSD. For additional resources we suggest you do an online search, contact your military representative and/or seek professional help.