This is a freelance article by Helen Love
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: The Final Battle For Many Brave Troops
Many troops are surviving difficult and unspeakable traumas on the battlefield, only to return home and face another battle, this time against an enemy that has no face. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is generally brought on as a result of witnessing terrifying or life threatening events, and no situations fits this scenario more than being in a war zone. Recent statistics suggest that as many as four out of five veterans of the Vietnam War suffered with post-traumatic stress disorder at some point in their lifetimes after they had returned home and reintegrated into normal society after the war. From the more modern wars that are fresher in the public’s collective consciousness, it has been found that at least 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan was veterans have suffered from or are suffering from either PTSD, depression or both. However many senior members of the military expect that this figure will rise significantly, and that the mental effects of operating within the theater of war on our brave troops is much more dramatic than was originally expected.
Understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Although the symptoms and the severity of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder differ from person to person, some of the key characteristics of the condition include experiencing severe anxiety, suffering from flash backs of the traumatic event and having nightmares or uncontrollable thoughts. It is perfectly normal to experience any or all of these symptoms after you have witnessed a traumatic event, but if the symptoms last for more than a couple of weeks, then it’s likely that you are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and may well need help and support to overcome the condition. Your doctor is likely to propose a treatment plan that combines medication to lessen and control your symptoms in conjunction with therapy to help you process and overcome the traumatic events that have caused your PTSD.
Notable Historic Cases of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
It’s important to remember that suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder is nothing to be ashamed of. Notable historic military leaders, such as Alexander the Great are thought to have suffered from the illness. After having spent most of his life engaged in various battles, Alexander the Great ended his life as an alcoholic who was highly suspicious of everybody around him and easily alarmed. At the end of his career he his pathological suspicion meant that he had all of the lieutenants that had served immediately under him killed. Although the term didn’t exist at the time, in modern terms it is clear that his years on the battle field had left Alexander the Great with severe post-traumatic stress disorder.
In a comparatively more recent example of warfare induced Post Traumatic stress disorder, research has also revealed that hero and founder of modern nursing Florence Nightingale (sometimes called ‘The Lady of the Lamp’) also suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder on her return from the Crimean War. Conditions for the nurse were unimaginably hard: she was working for 20 hours every day, and dealt with the most troublesome and difficult patients herself, dealing with conditions such as frostbite, gangrene and dysentery on a daily basis. Once the war was over and Florence returned home, her personality was completely changed. She displayed symptoms of anorexia, chronic fatigue, insomnia, irritability and then took to her bed for thirty years, simply not being able to find a reason to get up. Again, although the condition wasn’t discovered and categorized at the time, all of this symptoms are key indicators of post-traumatic stress disorder and several scholars have confirmed it is clear that Florence Nightingale also suffered from the condition.
The point is that no one is immune from the risks of developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: the illness is not discriminatory, and it affects people from all lifestyles and backgrounds. There is no shame in struggling with PTSD, particularly if you have returned from serving your country in the theater of war. What is important is that you recognize the signs of condition, and seek help as soon as possible, so that you can get your life back on track and achieve the happiness you deserve.