Individuals who have fought bravely for our country shouldn’t be without a job and still struggling to fit into society when they come home. Unfortunately, for many veterans, the war is still waging on inside their brains.
A U.S. News article reports that between 15-20 percent of veterans experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“We have a volunteer army, which is a good thing, but it’s also a bad thing in that people don’t have a lot of people to relate to,” Ken Yeager, PhD, LISW stated in the U.S. News article. “They don’t have many people to speak to about their experiences, and so when they come back, they’re more hyper-vigilant, they have trouble trusting, they attempt to control situations, they shut down and become less open and have less intimacy just in conversations with others, because others can’t really understand what they’ve been through.”
Unfortunately, this has led to many issues for our brave veterans trying to return to their former lives. They may experience mental disabilities that prevent them from holding down a job. As the battle continues in their heads, they face new fights, some of which they may not win.
If you are a veteran suffering from PTSD, it’s important that you arm yourself with the right tools. Here are a few strategies to help you live a relatively normal life:
1. Hire an Attorney
Unfortunately, some veterans with PTSD have a difficult time when all the doors are closed and they’re unable to support themselves or their families. PTSD can result in many mental health problems including depression, anxiety, suicide, sleep disorders, and more. Some may turn to substances to self-medicate, getting them into trouble with the law.
Don’t wait until it gets bad to hire a VA attorney. Find a lawyer who regularly works with veterans with PTSD. They can help you identify rights you might not have known you had.
In most states, PTSD is considered a disability. Therefore, you qualify for disability benefits. If the U.S. government denies you VA benefits, you also have the right to sue.
Receiving compensation and benefits will not cure your PTSD. However, it will help you cover your material needs so that you can reduce stress and focus on healing from your difficult experiences.
2. Seek a Mental Health Professional
There’s no shame in seeking help for this serious mental health disorder. PTSD is a monster issue that can snowball into other mental health problems. Oftentimes, the only way to push through is with the help of a professional.
There are multiple strategies for working through PTSD including both pharmacological and nonpharmacological options. Medications can be prescribed to help you sleep, combat depression or anxiety, and improve your mood.
Medication may not work for you, or it may not be enough to make you well. That’s where therapies come in. According to one study, two of the most understood and common methods of treatment are cognitive processing therapy (CPT) and prolonged exposure (PE) therapy.
“In CPT, the therapist helps the patient identify negative thoughts related to the event, understand how they can cause stress, replace those thoughts, and cope with the upsetting feelings,” study authors right.
Their findings also indicate that PE therapy is effective in 60 percent of veterans with PTSD victims. They assess that “repeated revisiting of the trauma in a safe, clinical setting helps the patient change how he or she reacts to memories of traumatic experiences, as well as learn how to master fear- and stress-inducing situations moving forward.”
New therapies emerge all the time, so it doesn’t hurt to speak with your doctor about the many options available for treating PTSD.
3. See a Sleep Specialist
Many of the problems associated with PTSD stem from lack of sleep. When you’re tired, you can’t think straight. Your brain can’t properly process materials, and you end up creating more serious mental health problems as a result.
If you’re like many veterans suffering from PTSD, a good night’s sleep may feel impossible because when you close your eyes, visions of past horrors appear, and you jolt awake. Sleep eludes you and creates more problems.
Alongside receiving treatment for specific mental health problems, it may be wise to seek help from a sleep therapist or specialist. They may offer strategies for improving sleep to end the vicious cycle of sleep deprivation and PTSD problems.
“Stress and anxiety management strategies can be especially helpful for managing PTSD-related sleep problems,” says a well-research article published on GoodTheraphy.org. “Some people find relief from meditation or yoga. Others find that guided imagery or positive mantras as they try to sleep can help.”
Never forget that you have more power than you might realize when combatting PTSD. The tools are there. Reach out and begin using them.