Coming Home from Afghanistan with PTSD

Coming Home from Afghanistan with PTSD

Returning home from war is often a relief and is usually very exciting for both families of soldiers and the soldiers themselves. However getting reacquainted with normal everyday life can be overwhelming, and soldiers may struggle with the added challenge of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What Are the Signs of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?

Signs of PTSD include the following:

  • Heightened anxiety
  • Vivid flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Feelings of detachment
  • Fear
  • Difficulty with memory
  • Feeling introverted and unable to express emotion

Lving with a soldier who is experiencing these symptoms is challenging. PTSD is a serious disorder that can lead to the demise of relationships, loss of friendships, drug or alcohol addiction and job loss. It is important to recognize the problem and seek professional help immediately, as untreated PTSD will only get worse.

What Happens during Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?

PTSD treatment involves talking about traumatic events. Even though this is arguably the hardest part of treatment, it is the most critical to a soldier’s rehabilitation. The soldier will work with a professional who can help them sort through the specific situations that he or she feels most haunted by. They will then discuss their past and present feelings about those events. Putting these feelings out in the open is vital to developing an understanding of the trauma.

Talk therapy may be accompanied by exposure therapy. This process is slow moving and kept at the same pace as overall psychological recovery. Exposing Afghanistan veterans to reminders of traumatic events can help them better rationalize what happened while in a secure environment.

While working through strong emotions and severe trauma, some soldiers may need additional help to process their situation. In this case a doctor will suggest a specific medication. Addiction commonly accompanies PTSD, so it is important to carefully weigh the benefits and risks of any medication. Being educated about PTSD and knowing where to go for treatment will play an important part in long-term recovery.