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What Is PTSD And PTS?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as, “a disorder that occurs after someone has had a shocking, traumatizing, or dangerous event.” Such events like abuse, sexual trauma, mental health conditions, witnessing death, going through catastrophic experiences, emotionally challenging situations, job loss, destructive relationships, being in combat, and other events can be the impetus to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Not to be confused with Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) or acute stress reaction, which is similar as it produces stress based on a traumatic event without it being a psychotic condition. Typically, the symptoms of PTS (also called “Shell Shocked”) last anywhere between 3 and 6 months, while PTSD can last for years. Some veterans and victims of domestic violence are examples of people who may experience symptoms of PTSD. People who have a dysfunctional family cycle, experienced childhood abuse, and suffer poor mental health have a higher risk of PTSD. Lastly, individuals who are at risk have to experience specific symptoms for a minimum of a month.

PTSD And PTS Statistics

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affects 3.6 million American adults, and is expected to double in the coming years. In contrast to PTS, PTSD can occur and last for months at a time, or years. Moreover, PTSD has destabilizing effects of those suffering with painful emotions or difficult memories.

As a result of the ongoing distress and unsettled trauma there can be a “fight or flight” response to stress. This can look like blowing up over something minor or panicking when undergoing an event that looks like the original event leading to PTSD. Secondly, people dealing with PTSD can stop taking care of themselves, may have a problem getting rest, eating regular meals, and taking the needed vitamins to ensure quality health. In the end, PTS and PTSD can lead to alcoholism and substance abuse, homelessness, and other challenging circumstances.

Veterans And PTSD

Veterans can have a higher likelihood of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to exposure to combat, time away from their family, assault, and the possibility of death. These extremely challenging circumstances create recurring nightmares, challenges in relaxing, grief or depression and, in some cases, can be a reason for addiction. Common signs and symptoms of veteran-specific PTSD include, but are not limited to:

  • Nightmares and insomnia
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Problems remembering things
  • Shame
  • Aggressive or irritable behavior
  • Substance abuse
  • Low self-worth or self-image
  • Depression
  • Flashbacks or intrusive images
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Anxiety
  • Hyper-alertness to surroundings
  • Job or relationship challenges

Women veterans who face sexism, molestation, gender-based violence, rape, and other types of sexual assault can also experience symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. As mentioned above, unhealthy coping can include harmful chemicals in an effort to take the pain away.

Approximately 23% of female veterans have been victims of such types of assault from both known and unknown assailants. Furthermore, the Journal of Dual Diagnosis states, “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has emerged as one of the most common forms of psychopathology among the 1.7 million military personnel deployed to the Middle East.” In response to these numbers, there have been many reports of alcohol abuse and prescription painkiller abuse in the same communities to help veterans cope.

Veteran And Alcohol Use

When people battling a challenging mental or emotional condition like PTSD, he or she can cope in healthy or unhealthy methods, hence alcohol abuse being prevalent in some veteran communities. Substance abuse like alcoholism has been an unfortunate reality for veterans trying to manage the symptoms of trauma. Alcohol for example is one sought out substance that may be used to depress anxious nerves. When individuals battling trauma or challenging mental health conditions use a chemical and become addicted, it becomes a co-morbid or co-occurring disorder.

Reports have cited a 56% increase of soldiers looking for alcohol treatment between 2003 and 2009.  Furthermore, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) says, “60% to 80% of Vietnam Veterans seeking treatment for PTSD have alcohol use problems.” This is an indication that the trauma veterans have faced during war has had a lasting effect on their wellbeing. Veterans, especially those diagnosed with mental health conditions like PTSD, can engage in social drinking, binge drinking and heavy drinking. As a result of alcoholism, binge drinking, or heavy drinking, veterans with PTSD may experience the following symptoms:

  • Drinking to escape feelings of stress or depression.
  • Spending more time away from friends and loved ones to drink.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when he or she stops drinking.
  • Talking about drinking as a means to soothe trauma.
  • Talking about suicide.
  • Abusing other substances to soothe symptoms of PTSD.

In the case of veterans abusing alcohol to cope with PTSD, professional medical assistance is ideal for the best care possible. Consider contacting a treatment provider for treatment options.

Signs Of PTSD And PSD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress can create behavioral and emotional signs that include but are not limited to:

  • Avoidant-like behaviors (denial or not wanting to think about certain events)
  • Not going to places that remind you of the event
  • Memories of the event
  • Shame or guilt
  • Emotional distress
  • For some in abusive relationships (going back to their partner and leaving)
  • Negative thoughts about the situation or involved parties
  • Emotional detachment
  • Hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • Substance abuse
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts or tendencies
  • Depression or anxiety

Moreover, children can experience signs of trauma like wetting the bed, withdrawing socially, feelings of shame, and in some cases, aggressive behavior.

Ready To Make A Change?

Post-Traumatic Stress and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can affect one’s mind, body, and relationships. If you or a loved one needs help with managing symptoms of PTSD and uses harmful chemicals, there is hope. Contact a treatment provider who are available to answer any questions about treatment medications and assistance for comorbidity. Make a life-changing call today.

  • Author: Krystina Murray | Last Updated: June 20, 2022

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    Krystina Murray

    Digital Content Writer

    Krystina Murray has received a B.A. in English at Georgia State University. She has over 7 years of professional writing and editing experience, and over 17 years of overall writing experience. She enjoys traveling, fitness, crafting, cooking, and spreading awareness of addiction recovery to help people transform their lives.

  • Medical Reviewer: Dayna Smith-Slade

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