Post Traumatic Stress Disorder And Its Effects On Military Families

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder suffered by individuals who have experienced trauma. It creates high levels of anxiety or depression as those with PTSD relive past experiences that caused them physical or psychological harm. It also has a profound effect on the families of the victims, who often don't understand why their family member is anxious for no apparent reason.

Events that cause PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder may be caused by single events or multiple experiences such as:

  • Childhood physical or sexual abuse
  • Rape or other sexual assault
  • Accidents
  • Physical assault
  • War

PTSD has become a major mental health problem for those returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The protracted nature of these wars, along with a smaller volunteer military, led to multiple deployments with little time in between for decompression and a return to normal family life.

Veterans' hospitals have been overwhelmed by the challenges of treating this epidemic. In addition, many of those in military service fear blemishing their military record with mental health treatment, so they don't seek help. Soldiers are also reticent to show fear or perceived weakness.

How can military families cope with PTSD

Family counseling, either with or without the PTSD victim, will enable family members to understand its effects and to realize that they are not the cause of the victim's anxiety, anger, or depression. They can learn about the triggers that may bring about anxiety or panic in the PTSD victim. These triggers might include:

  • Loud noises. Noises that simulate gunfire or explosions may be particularly powerful for those who have experienced multiple combat missions. They may relive traumatic events in their minds, or become hyperaroused, where their senses are dramatically heightened and responsive.
  • Smells. The smell of smoke is a fairly obvious trigger for those who experienced combat, but there may also be seemingly innocuous smells that might be associated with a traumatic event.
  • Accents. PTSD victims that have endured torture or abuse at the hands of enemy combatants are especially vulnerable when hearing the language or accent of their oppressors.

While PTSD victims often exhibit changes in personality, spouses can be counselled on when to seek intervention. Victims that become completely withdrawn from family members and friends, or begin to drink excessively or use illegal drugs, may need to be forced to see a mental health professional who will help them to regain the lives they lost to PTSD. Speak with specialists like Giblin Consulting for more advice.