The most traumatic experience that could happen to military personnel on duty is to see a loved one die. An incident such as this can have a greater impact on the mental well-being of a person than probably the psychosocial strain of getting injured oneself.
Post the Gulf war, a survey done by David Marlowe, an expert working in the Department of Defense, found that the death of a friend is more sickening and heart rendering than even one’s first kill. Interestingly, in the survey, maximum respondents revealed that the act of killing one’s enemy made him or her liable to be more distressed than facing injuries on one’s own self.
US military most affected by PTSD
In an old study titled, ” Post-traumatic stress disorder in the military veteran,” the researchers suggested that military personnel who are in the line of fire or facing imminent risk are more prone to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Others who are similarly impacted by PTSD include those who have been wounded in the war, correspondents covering the action from a close range and medical personal. Women, whether they are a part of the military action or subject to some form of exploitation in the society, are also known to display symptoms of PTSD. However, PTSD is not just restricted to the war veterans. Even the general population exposed to trauma or violence are prone to show signs of PTSD.
Listed below are some of the symptoms of PTSD:
- Preponderance of negative thoughts
- Rapid heartbeat
- Muscle contraction
Symptoms of PTSD exacerbate in those with a negative childhood experience
PTSD may occur suddenly, mostly arising without a warning. Many war veterans who return home to perfectly normal lives suddenly find themselves being hounded by images of war, in flashbacks, which ultimately leads to the debilitating symptoms of PTSD.
As a consequence, familial ties are strained and the resulting vicious cycle of anxiety and depression develops into a crisis, which can only be tackled with proper medical intervention and support.
It must be remembered that not everyone in the military will have PTSD. Apparently, a pre-military condition such as lack of positive reinforcement during childhood or economic hardship during childhood impinges on the coping abilities of a personnel post war. Precisely, childhood abuse may exacerbate PTSD-type symptoms in military personnel. Also, studies have shown that women and people with low IQ are more likely to show symptoms of PTSD, either due to increased vulnerability or requirement for immediate fulfillment of emotional gratification.
Dealing with PTSD
One of the main characteristic features of anxiety and fear are the responses generated in the brain. As fear or anxiety often causes a range of defensive behaviors, these major bottlenecks disrupt the day-to-day life of the patients. Though a consequence of evolutionary processes, PTSD if not controlled timely, could turn into a malfunctioning behavior. It has far reaching impact on the social life. Whether war veterans or the general population, all are equally impacted by the devastating effects of PTSD.
One of the most widespread therapies used to treat PTSD-related behavior is cognitive behavioral therapy. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is another form of therapy that uses eye movement for behavior correction. Recognizing the symptoms of anxiety and approaching self-help or support groups and therapists goes a long way in treating the disorder.
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