If you, or a loved one is having difficulty adjusting to life outside of the military, you may find that you feel as though you are constantly anxious or on edge, or contrastingly, you may feel emotionally numb and disconnected from the people that you love. Most of the time, someone suffering from PTSD as a result of their time in the military worry that they may never feel normal again, as the lingering symptoms can be incredibly disabling, making it difficult to live an ordinary life. However, it is important to recognize that you or your loved one can get better, and that there are methods for treating veterans of war “Vets” and their trauma out there and available to you.
Research has not yet discovered why some soldiers suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder while others do not, but some studies have discovered that the risk factor typically rises according to your exposure to combat or numerous tours. Many symptoms of PTSD, such as hyperawareness, adrenaline and hyper-vigilance, can be factors that individuals rely on when they are deployed to help them survive. However, once you return home to your regular life, you may begin to notice that these responses are inappropriate, and you may find that you experience difficulty transitioning out of the emotional and mental state you had placed yourself in to deal with the effects of a war zone.
The Consequences of Numbing and Avoidance
Avoiding certain situations or objects can be a good idea in some cases, but it is important to remember that it is not helpful to avoid everything, and it can be harmful to obsess about feelings and thoughts reminding you of the event that you experienced. Sometimes, you may need to temporarily distance yourself from the situation at hand and think about ways in which you can better care for yourself and avoid exposing yourself to unnecessary distress. However, when you do everything possible avoid instances or situation where you may be reminded of your trauma, you may be engaging in unhealthy avoidance behaviors. The following symptoms could be indications that you are numbing yourself or avoiding certain situations to an unhealthy extent:
- You feel emotionally or physically disconnected from the people around you. You may be unable to experience feelings the way you once did, and some people have trouble telling the difference between experiences of pain and pleasure.
- You attempt to escape through excessive television, video games or daydreams
- You have trouble concentrating, or your mind seems to be cloudy and confused
- You engage in risky behavior, substance abuse, or stimulants in an attempt to counteract a feeling of emptiness.
- You believe you are suffering from depression, and have lost interest in the activities you previously enjoyed.
- You develop an eating disorder which leads to you eat less or more in an attempt to combat distressful feelings within yourself.
How Psychotherapy Can Help
Various talking therapies can be particularly effective when it comes dealing with phobias, anxiety disorders, and PTSD. Some of the most common forms of psychotherapy which are used in treating post-traumatic stress disorder include:
- Exposure therapies: This is a type of behavioral therapy which aims to assist an individual in safely facing the object or situation that they find to be frightening until they learn to cope with it more effectively.
- Cognitive therapy: This method of therapy helps you to consider the way your thought processes work so that you might recognize and eradicate unhealthy ways of thinking. For PTSD, cognitive therapy is regularly used alongside exposure therapy for the best effects.
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: This combines exposure therapy with guided eye movements that help to change the way you process and react to traumatic memories.
Alongside various medications, such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medicines, these approaches can assist individuals in regaining control after they have been exposed to lasting fear or anxiety symptoms following trauma. Usually, you will talk with a medical professional about the options that are available for you, and considering the severity of your PTSD, the two of you will come to a conclusion about what may be the best form of treatment. Remember that you do not have to go through your recovery alone, and Creative Care is here to help you along the way.