Today is Veterans Day. A day to honor and remember veterans and victims of wars. Every day twenty veteran and active duty military individuals commit suicide caused most commonly by PTSD.
Mobilization, or fight or flight, induces your nervous system to respond to the situation by pounding heartbeat, high blood pressure, and muscle tightness, making you want to get away from the situation. Immobilization occurs when your body experiences too much stress and your nervous system is unable to return to its normal state. This is PTSD.
Causes of PTSD
- Experiencing an event that you perceive as life-threatening or induced flight or fight response in your body.
- Witnessing traumatic event
- Learning a close friend or relative was exposed to trauma
- Exposure to details of the trauma (i.e. first responders and counselors)
- intrusive thoughts/memories
- emotional distress (panic attacks, irritability, anger, trouble concentrating, hyper vigilance)
- avoidance of people, places, things, and events that remind individual of trauma
Recovery/how to manage
- Burns off
- helps to focus on body movement instead of thoughts. Rock climbing, martial arts, and weight training are the most popular choices.
- Burns off
- Regulate the nervous system
- You have more control over your nervous system than you realize. Mindful breathing can help you re-start your brain and nervous system to baseline. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and exhale for 4 seconds (to restart the system). Repeat the process until calm.
- Connecting with others
- Many strides have been made in counseling to help individuals with PTSD, specifically caused by combat (VRT, group, interaction with animals, and Service animals).
- Volunteer your time
- Take care of your body
- Find safe ways to blow off steam
- Have a healthy diet
- Get sleep (developing routine will help your body orient itself to a schedule and will naturally calm your body down closer to bedtime)
- Avoid drugs and alcohol (substance use and abuse can make symptoms worse)
- Deal with the symptoms
How civilians can help
- Sufferers may believe that the world is fundamentally unsafe and that they can trust no one.
- Don’t allow your guilt or worry to take away from their struggle. The situation is about their experiences, not whether you think you are a good person.
- Refusing to talk to them about their experiences doesn’t save them from reliving the situation and sends the message that they can’t feel safe talking to you about who they are.
- PTSD is associated with an increase in violent behavior but is not true. Sometimes the only emotion that sufferers are able to express is anger.