NOTE: It is a joy to welcome Laura Chapman, a mental health expert, as our first contributing writer. As a 100% disabled Vietnam Veteran from exposure to Agent Orange, it was important to myself and those who suffered the insane trauma of war, to include an article on PTSD as part of our reaching out to patients who so often are not receiving help and support.
My dearest friend Doctor Poff, a brilliant medical doctor and Arthur of a multitude of major research articles, served beside me in Vietnam, while providing medical care to the Vietnamese people. PTSD and the lack of supportive care has taken a toil on this wonderful brilliant human being. When I realize that I only suffered with suppressed grief for seven years, finding my way out of this emotional hell, Poff like too many veterans are not that lucky and still find themselves in the hell of PTSD with little support.
So while this article goes beyond Neuropathy or the issues of Agent Orange, it is my personal commitment to the emotional health of all our Veterans of all wars who serve our country and provide for our freedom that the people of Vietnam do not enjoy to this day. Freedom is never free nor can it be taken for granted or it will be lost. So welcome Laura and God bless.
Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be a terrifying and isolating mental illness. It’s the brain’s reaction to a traumatic event and can cause depression, anxiety and flashbacks among typical sufferers.
The risk of PTSD with war veterans and soldiers is particularly high due to the nature of their work; death, extreme conditions, weaponry and explosions over a prolonged period of time can deeply affect the mind and result in it going into a form of shock. Disturbingly, USA Today has recently reported that we’re predicted to have a wave of PTSD sufferers emerge from the wars in Iran and Afghanistan. With numbers having already increasing tenfold over the last decade, raising awareness for this life altering condition is key in helping to solve to problem.
As well as the symptoms mentioned above, signs you may have PTSD include a change in appetite (you may be eating for comfort or have lost your appetite altogether), trouble sleeping, night terrors and nightmares, difficulty remembering the traumatic event, and avoidance of particular people or areas – often involved with the incident. You may also be unstable emotionally and be suffering from depression, anxiety and guilt. If you’re suffering from even just one of these, you must seek help.
There are plenty of treatment options for those diagnosed with PTSD and these depend on the symptoms. Medication is one option, which can help with the depression. If the PTSD is extreme and the sufferer is experiencing extreme symptoms like flashbacks or hallucinations, antipsychotics may be prescribed.
Another type of PTSD treatment is therapy, specifically Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This can be effective in cases where the individual is able to and wants to talk about their traumatic event. This type of therapy involves talking through and reliving the incident so that the patient’s feelings towards it can be rationalized and coped with more efficiently in future.
It’s vital that, if a family member or friend suffers from PTSD, you remain supportive. Although you may not be able to directly empathize, conducting your own research can help you gain a level of understanding on the subject and prevent you from becoming frustrated with them through a lack of knowledge. Offer to take them to their appointments and encourage them to speak with other people so that they have a strong support system behind them. If they don’t want to talk about the event or treatment, don’t force them but offer them a shoulder to lean on should they need it.
DISCLAIMER: The information in this article and on the website or the links or in the guidance provided is intended to be educational and informative and not medically prescriptive or diagnostic. All patients are encouraged to consult with their own medical doctor when considering any this information.
Copyright – 2014-2015 Network for Neuropathy Support, Inc., 501c3, dba as Neuropathy Support Network. This article or its contents may be reprinted or published for educational purposes as long as the printing or publishing is not for profit and acknowledgement is granted the author.