Is Post traumatic Stress Disorder?
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, has been
long associated with war veterans. It was called
“Shell Shock” in WWI, “Combat
Neurosis” during WW II, and eventually
recognized as an anxiety disorder by the American
Psychiatric Association and termed PTSD. PTSD
usually sets in up to several months after the
most recent trauma, and can last years or even
What Causes PTSD?
As the name implies, PTSD is caused by trauma.
During war, taking part in and/or witnessing
the brutal and violent acts of battle. However,
PTSD can also be brought on by non-combat acts
of brutality or violence toward combatants or
civilians. There are many PTSD vets who have
never been aggressive towards others, but who
may suffer feelings of profound guilt by mere
association with such acts of violence. In any
case, PTSD is clearly triggered by violence
What are the Signs and
Symptoms of PTSD?
Re-experiencing traumatic events (obsessive
recollections, flashbacks or intrusive thoughts,
nightmares), avoidant symptoms (fear of being
with people), signs of hyper arousal (easily
startled, irritable), avoiding experiences or
people that trigger memories of such event(s),
increased arousal, to include nervousness, over-reaction
to sudden noises, difficulty sleeping (night
sweats), and nightmares, bouts of rage and/or
depression, difficulty relating emotionally
to others, feelings of extreme alienation and
meaninglessness, isolation from others, in extreme
cases, persistent thoughts of murder and-or
suicide. Symptoms can take months or even years
What Do I Do If I Think
I Have PTSD?
PTSD is difficult to recognize, because soldiers
are socialized to believe that admitting to
feeling bad is weak and that seeking professional
help is often viewed negatively and discouraged
by the Chain of Command. The best thing you
can do is get yourself the care you deserve
and improve your quality of life even if there
is “peer pressure” not to. Seek
out help from a trained mental health professional.
You can do this on your installation or through
the VA if you are not on active duty. If you
are diagnosed, you should immediately call 1-800-827-1000,
and ask to be connected to the Veterans Administration
Regional Office. Once connected, ask for instructions
on how to apply for services related to PTSD.
Do NOT take no for an answer. Depending on the
VA facility, or individual VA employee, you
may be discouraged from filing a claim. Even
if they tell you that you are not entitled,
demand the application paperwork and file it.
What Is The Treatment
Treatment for PTSD involves therapy and sometimes
medication. Medication should be a supplement
to therapy, not the primary mode of care. In
addition to talking to a therapist, you may
also have Vets4Vets, a veterans support group
near you, www.vets4vets.us.
National Gulf War Resource Center
National Center for PTSD