About Military PTSD

1 IN 6 FULL TIME CANADIAN ARMED FORCES MEMBER IS AFFECTED FROM MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES, 48% WILL EXPERIENCE A MENTAL HEALTH ISSUE IN THIER LIFETIME, AND 44% OF OUR FIRST RESPONDERS SUFFER FROM A MENTAL HEALTH DISORDER.
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ABOUT MILITARY PTSD

Many veterans have trouble adjusting to civilian life; even serving on a base feels unreal after dealing with major combat situations. Operational soldiers may be injured, witness the death of a fellow soldier, or many atrocities while in country. Soldiers may have been responsible for trying to save the life of a wounded soldier, been involved in armed conflict situations, or may have experienced death in combat of a brother or sister in arms.

We aren’t always prepared to cope with the effects of what the career may encompass. Even those from a military or first responder family learn that hearing the stories compared to actually fighting in a war or saving lives are quite different. Many combat veterans or first responders develop operational-related PTSD or OSI as they are exposed to situations they aren’t prepared for and don’t know how to cope with. Rarely do these men and women experience a single traumatic event; they never know when the next situation will come or when their next conflict situation will be engaged. They are in a constant high alert situation, for their safety or lives. Operational related PTSD may not develop immediately; some symptoms may appear directly after the stress ends, while some may experience delayed expression, in which of symptoms don’t appear until months or even years following an event.

 

Combat soldiers and first responders experiencing operational-related PTSD will experience a wide array of symptoms and signs of the injury.

 

The primary categories of symptoms include:

Intrusive Symptoms: involve re-experiencing the events and are signs that the body is trying to come to terms with and process the events combat soldiers have experienced. These symptoms may reappear during times of active stress. As these symptoms are automatic and involve re-experiencing the trauma, a soldier may feel as though they are back in danger.

 

These may include:

  • Feeling in danger even though they are in a safe situation

  • Flashbacks – involuntary, uncontrollable, distressing reminders and memories of the traumatic event

  • Trauma-related dreams and nightmares of being back in combat

  • Distressing reminders and memories of the traumas of combat

  • Feelings of fear and anxiety as though they are back in the combat zone

 

Avoidant Symptoms: occur when a combat soldier draws inward or becomes emotionally numb in order to cope with the intensity of the feelings they are experiencing. Avoidant symptoms of combat-related PTSD may include:

  • Loss of interest in any and all parts of daily life, including once-enjoyed activities

  • Active, extensive avoidance of anything that may remind the soldier of the combat experiences, including thoughts, activities, places, people, memories, feelings, and conversations

  • Feeling detached from others, finding it a challenge to feel lovingly toward other people or experiencing any strong emotions whatsoever

  • Feeling a strong disconnect from the world around you and the things that happen to you

  • Making an effort to restrict the emotions you feel

  • Shutting down and becoming emotionally numb as a means to protect yourself

  • The feeling of the surreality of things around you

  • Experiencing weird physical sensations

  • Difficulty recalling important parts of the traumatic events

  • Loss of ability to feel physical pain or other sensations

 

Hyperarousal Symptoms can make a combat soldier feel as though they are constantly on guard and on edge, and can lead to a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Uncharacteristic, unexpected angry outbursts

  • Irritability

  • Exaggerated startle response that may trigger a memory or thought of the traumas

  • Difficulty relaxing enough to sleep

  • Hyper-vigilance or feeling as though there is a constant need to protect oneself from danger

  • Aggression

  • Panic attacks

CO-OCCURING DISORDERS

Co-occurring disorders are common among operational soldiers who develop a combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder. Unfortunately, military code dictates that soldiers are strong and can withstand anything, so soldiers in need of help for mental health issues may feel reluctant to ask for help. Additionally, many soldiers are re-traumatized as they opt for another tour of duty, feeling combat is all they know. Failure to immediately address PTSD complicates matters, and the additional traumatic events increase the likelihood of co-occurring disorders, including:

  • Substance abuse

  • Alcohol use

  • Depression

  • Anxiety disorders

  • Bipolar disorder

  • Sleep-wake disorders

  • Sexual dysfunctions

  • Intermittent explosive disorder (IED)

If you, or someone you love has experienced any of these symptoms, we encourage you to contact your local Veteran Affairs office to begin your steps for recovery of PTSD. 

If you are in CRISIS please contact:

 

CANADA: 

Canada Suicide Prevention :   1 800 456 4566

VAC Assistance Service: 1 800 268 7708

Legion Canada PTSD Resources

 

                                                

USA:

Veterans Crisis Line: 1 800 273 8255

Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  1 800 784 2433

CONTACT US

Wayne Cummings WO BSc. (Ret) 

Cynthia Cummings - Program Director

+639 21 366 6152 Philippines

250 857 5901 Canada

Cummings

Highlands

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