Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that arises after a triggering event that’s often highly stressful, terrifying or distressing. PTSD affects many people with around four in 100 experiencing the condition in any given week in England.

It’s often associated with military service personnel who experienced or witnessed a particularly distressing event while serving in the armed forces.

The ability to understand PTSD and offer support is key to helping those with the condition.

Causes of PTSD

While there can be many triggers of the condition, events can include witnessing or experiencing a traumatic incident such as combat, physical abuse, sexual abuse, sudden loss or being involved in a natural disaster.

Individual experiences can differ widely so while some people might not be affected by a shared experience such as conflict or an earthquake, for example, others might go on to develop PTSD.

Symptoms of PTSD

Symptoms can vary widely and, according to the NHS, usually manifest within the first month after the traumatic event. However, in other individuals, there can be a delayed onset of symptoms. Common signs of PTSD include:

  • Flashbacks, distressing images and nightmares
  • Avoidance, becoming isolated and withdrawn and concentration difficulties
  • Anxiety, irritability and sleep problems
  • Unusual or difficult behaviour in children

Many of these symptoms are as a result of the individual using coping mechanisms to try and numb the pain or to block out the event.

Military PTSD

Those who serve in the military or military veterans can suffer PTSD, or combat stress as it’s also known, due to their exposure to particularly distressing events. These could be trauma, injury, death of friends, hostage and life-threatening situations. It can also occur due to bullying or abuse within the military.

As well as the common symptoms of PTSD, military personnel might also experience survivor guilt, trouble adjusting to civilian life and continuing nightmares. This often affects relationships, jobs and their attempt to get back to normality.

Support for military veterans

There is various support available for those who suffer PTSD due to a military experience. In the case of any negligence that contributed to PTSD, an individual might be able to make a claim via specialist military solicitors.

Examples of other support include:

  • Counselling and therapy: veterans can access a range of therapies such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), cognitive therapy and prolonged exposure.
  • Nonprofit organisations: there are a variety of organisations and groups that offer therapy alongside support and resources for family members via self-help online guides.
  • Social support groups: these are community groups where veterans can access support from fellow sufferers and offer advice and coping strategies.
  • Benefits: there is also financial help for those who serve or have previously served in the military which could ease any additional strain.

Whatever the individual’s experience, it’s important to be patient and offer support in whichever way works best for them.

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