Veterans Mental Health

Common Questions About PTSD

common ptsd questionsThere are many misconceptions about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and how it can be treated. By exploring a few fallacies about the disorder, the team at Emory Healthcare Veterans Program wants to emphasize that it is possible to heal invisible wounds through evidence-based treatment.

Misconception: There is no cure for PTSD

Believing that PTSD is incurable may be the most harmful misconception because it prevents warriors from seeking help. Life after PTSD is possible because evidence-based treatment works.

Seventy-five percent of warriors who complete treatment through Emory Healthcare Veterans Program experience a dramatic decrease in PTSD symptoms and many have shared their experience, proving that treatment works. See video testimonials.

Misconception: You can only get PTSD if you saw combat

PTSD is a disorder that can occur as a result of a traumatic event. Combat may be a source of PTSD, but it is certainly not the only one. Other life events, such as actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence, can also lead to PTSD. However, exposure to trauma does not mean that an individual will suffer from PTSD. People can react in many ways to trauma exposure, including natural recovery or resilience.

Question: My friend and I experienced the same event. Why did I get PTSD but he/she didn’t?

Most people will be exposed to some type of trauma in their lifetime; however, most will not develop PTSD. Various protective and risk factors play a role in whether individuals will develop PTSD (or another mental health diagnosis) following trauma, including environmental, genetic, and cultural factors.

Question: Why would I want to relive the memory?

PTSD is a disorder marked by avoidance, so it makes sense that facing the memory would be frightening. However, it is that very avoidance (of the memory, of traumatic reminders, of painful emotions) that helps maintain the symptoms of PTSD, such as intrusive thoughts, anxiety, and anger.

Through prolonged exposure (PE) therapy, individuals learn that the memory itself is not harmful or dangerous and that they can tolerate the distress that they’re avoiding. Through repeated exposure, individuals learn to place the memory into the appropriate context and emotionally process the event. While reliving the memory is difficult, the result of PE is a decline in the distress associated with the event and a decline in PTSD symptoms.

 

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Emory Healthcare Veterans Program Clinical Director Dr. Rauch Talks About Veterans Reintegration and Mental Health

Veteran hugs childMost servicemembers will have some type of adjustment period after returning home from deployment. For each person the process is different depending on different variables during and after deployment. Mental health issues, traumatic brain injury and military sexual trauma can make that even more difficult. The Emory Veterans Program is here to help them reclaim their lives.

Question:
How long does it usually take to adjust to normal life again? How long should I wait to see someone if I’m still not feeling like my normal self?

Dr. Rauch:
That is a good question. If at any time you’re having issues that you feel that you need or want help with, you should come see us. Readjustment often takes a year, and for some people longer, to feel like they’re really back in their life. The readjustment process is different for every individual and often depends on life’s variables, such as your job, social support and your family. It’s never too early to come talk with someone familiar with military service and deployment about your experience. Reintegration can be a difficult process. Mental health issues, traumatic brain injury and military sexual trauma can make that even harder. The Emory Veterans Program is here to help you reclaim your life.

Question:
My brother has seemed moody and depressed since he got back. Is there a good way for me to help him or encourage him to talk to someone about how he’s feeling?

Dr. Rauch:
It is common for returning veterans to have problems talking with people who have not deployed. While most veterans returning don’t have mental health issues, a significant minority may have problems with depression, posttraumatic stress or traumatic brain injury. Letting your brother know that you’re willing to listen or help is probably the best thing you can do. Sometimes it just takes patience to allow someone to open up.

Learn more about the Integrated Memory Care Clinic

Or call for more information 1-888-514-5345

You’re Not Alone: A Mental Health Message for our Veterans

father hugs soldier sonOur veterans and service members are some of the most brave men and women in our country. They’re passionate and disciplined when it comes to protecting and serving our country, which is a commitment we’re grateful for every day.

The Invisible Wounds of War

That bravery continues off duty as well — many carry the heavy weight of the sights and experiences they encountered while serving. Consider these statistics:

  • 20 percent of veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • 2014 JAMA Psychiatry study found PTSD to be 15 times more likely for veterans and service members compared to civilians. The same report found depression to occur 5 times more frequently among military members than civilians.
  • The same study from JAMA found 1 in 4 active duty military members suffer from a mental health condition.

PTSD, anxiety, traumatic brain injury (TBI), military sexual trauma (MST) and other mental health conditions can all occur as a result of military service. And, these health issues are every bit as serious as injuries we can see.

Healing These Wounds

Our veterans and service members need access to quality mental health programs. They also need to know it’s okay to talk about their experiences. If someone you love may be suffering from a mental health issue, please check in with them regularly. Ask them how they’re doing and be ready to simply listen.

If you’re a veteran or service member suffering from any mental health symptom or condition, please reach out for help. Talk to a friend, family member or fellow veteran. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. You should never be embarrassed to get treatment for a mental health issue.

Honor our veterans and service members this Veterans Day by sharing this message with others. You can also help change the way the world sees mental health by taking the stigma-free pledge.

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