Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious medical condition that’s characterized by reoccurring bouts of anxiety and stress, usually linked to at least one severely traumatic experience in a person’s life. According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as many as 8 in 100 Americans will develop this condition at some point in their lives. While PTSD can affect anyone, regardless of gender, age or background, military veterans are particularly affected by this disorder.
How PTSD Occurs
PTSD is triggered by our body’s flight-or-fight response. When we are confronted with a potentially dangerous, traumatic event, our bodies respond by creating fear and anxiety, which is essential for self-preservation. Unfortunately, however, this fear and anxiety may become embedded in a person’s memory, at which point they’ll experience reoccurring nightmares and/or visions of the event later. Veterans are particularly at risk for PTSD since they’ve experience the horrors of war first hand. So when they return home from deployment, they’ll continue to think about the violent scenes from their time served.
Dealing with PTSD
- Participate in social activities with other veterans suffering from PTSD. Don’t try to overcome PTSD alone. Seek support from other like-minded veterans who are also battling this disorder. There are dozens of different support groups designed specifically for veterans with PTSD, and participating in them is a great way to relieve stress while gaining support in the process.
- Stay busy and active. Veterans suffering from PTSD should stay busy to keep their mind off the traumatic events of war and deployment. It’s not uncommon for veterans to return home, only to remain idle without any job or recreational activity. In doing so, they continue to think about their deployment, resulting in increased anxiety and stress.
- Consider flying a flag to commemorate those who have paid the ultimate price.
- Focus on improving your health. Many experts recommend veterans exercise to combat the problems associated with PTSD. This may include running, swimming, playing sports, or even dancing. Exercising allows veterans to focus on their body and health and instead of their thoughts.
- Adopt a dog. If you’ve been wanting to adopt a dog, there’s no better time than now to do so. According to the VA, dogs offer several emotional advantages that can help ease the symptoms associated with PTSD. Veterans will sense of relief and happiness by owning and raising a dog, which should ease their PTSD.
For more information on PTSD in veterans, check out the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at http://www.ptsd.va.gov/.