Where You Served Affects Your Ptsd Risk
While all military personnel face some level of PTSD risk, those who served in certain areas may be more at-risk. Veterans deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom display an 11 to 20 percent chance to develop PTSD in a given year. For context, that means that of the 1.9 million veterans who served in these operations, between 209,000 and 380,000 will develop PTSD.
Veterans of the Gulf War , with 12 percent of them developing PTSD, or 660,000 of the 5.5 million American military personnel in that conflict. These veteran PTSD statistics indicate that the Gulf War and Iraq War were similarly traumatic for service members. Unfortunately, however, the PTSD rates for other conflicts go much higher.
In the 1970s, a study showed that 15 percent of Vietnam War veterans developed PTSD. However, as time has gone on, that number has doubled to a staggering 30% of Vietnam veterans with PTSD, or 810,000 of the 2.7 million service members, in the National Vietnam Veteran Readjustment Study. These veteran PTSD statistics suggest that lifetime risk of PTSD may be higher than the numbers suggested for recent conflicts. For this reason, its important to seriously monitor your mental health as you age to ensure that you do not display PTSD symptoms.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Ptsd Among Military Service Members
Risk factors for PTSD among people in the military include lower education status, previous traumas, drug and alcohol use, poor social support, and a history of mental illness. Prior to joining the military, if you have mental health issues, youre more likely to develop PTSD, says Bret Moore, PsyD, a prescribing psychologist and board-certified clinical psychologist in San Antonio, Texas, and author of The Posttraumatic Growth Workbook.
Genetics may also make certain individuals more predisposed to developing PTSD than others. In a study in Molecular Psychiatry, 29 percent of a group of American and European women who had PTSD had a genetic risk factor for the mental illness. They also found that those people who had other mental illnesses were at a higher risk for developing PTSD after exposure to trauma.
Causes Of Ptsd In Soldiers
PTSD occurs after a person has experienced a traumatic event. This can include combat stress, severe trauma, or life-threatening situations.
When faced with a stressful event, the body first mobilizes to deal with the danger. The fight-or-flight response is activated, which prepares people to defend themselves or flee the situation. It causes a cascade of physiological effects including increased heart rate, rapid breathing, dilated pupils, and increased muscle tension.
After the threat has passed, the relaxation response helps return the body to its previous state of equilibrium. People with PTSD, however, are unable to fully leave the state of heightened awareness and readiness, which results in a range of symptoms.
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Ptsd In Iraq And Afghanistan Veterans
PTSD is a significant public health problem in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom deployed and non-deployed Veterans and should not be considered an outcome solely related to deployment.
This study finds that 15.7% of OEF/OIF deployed Veterans screened positive for PTSD compared to 10.9% of non-deployed Veterans. Overall 13.5% of study participants screened positive for PTSD.
Researchers determined if Veterans screened positive for PTSD by looking at survey answers to the PTSD Checklist Civilian Version . The PCL-C is a screening instrument routinely used in VA.
‘higher Levels Of Ptsd Among Veterans’ Says Study
Post-traumatic stress disorder of serving Army personnel and military veterans has increased in the last 10 years, a new study suggests.
Most sufferers were veterans who saw active combat 17% reported symptoms of probable PTSD.
Experts said the delayed onset of the illness, and the loss of support when leaving the army, were probable causes.
And more veterans are seeking treatment, as awareness of PTSD has increased.
The study of nearly 9,000 of the military, by King’s College London, is published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. It shows that PTSD in the military increased from 4% in 2004-5 to 6% in 2014-16.
Among veterans deployed in a combat role to Iraq or Afghanistan, 17% reported symptoms suggesting probable PTSD, compared to 6% deployed in support roles such as doctors and aircrew.
Lead author Dr Sharon Stevelink, from the Institute of Psychology, Psychiatry & Neuroscience at King’s College, said: “For the first time we have identified that the risk of PTSD for veterans deployed in conflicts was substantially higher than the risk for those still serving.
“While the increase among veterans is a concern, not every veteran has been deployed and in general only about one in three would have been in a combat role.”
The findings are from the third phase of a major study which has been running since 2003.
The latest phase of the study surveyed participants between 2014 and 2016. 62% of them had deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, and the average age was 40.
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The Average Number Of Suicides Among Veterans Is 176 Per Day
This is the most recent data. PTSD can cause war flashbacks and acute stress disorder, among other things, which can further compel them to try to self-medicate, abuse drugs, or turn to excessive drinking instead of seeking professional medical help.
As PTSD in veterans facts and stats show, they are 58% higher risk of committing suicide than veterans who were not diagnosed with PTSD.
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Deal With Flashbacks Nightmares And Intrusive Thoughts
For veterans with PTSD, flashbacks usually involve visual and auditory memories of combat. It feels as if its happening all over again so its vital to reassure yourself that the experience is not occurring in the present. Trauma specialists call this dual awareness.
Dual awareness is the recognition that there is a difference between your experiencing self and your observing self. On the one hand, there is your internal emotional reality: you feel as if the trauma is currently happening. On the other hand, you can look to your external environment and recognize that youre safe. Youre aware that despite what youre experiencing, the trauma happened in the past. It is not happening now.
State to yourself the reality that while you feel as if the trauma is currently happening, you can look around and recognize that youre safe.
Use a simple script when you awaken from a nightmare or start to experience a flashback: I feel because Im remembering , but as I look around I can see that the event isnt happening right now and Im not in danger.
Describe what you see when you look around .
Try tapping your arms as you describe what you see to help bring you back to the present.
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Common Problems For Service Members And Veterans With Ptsd
Alcohol or drug use: Many service members and veterans with PTSD use nonprescription drugs or drink alcohol to try not to think about what happened to them. Some people drink to help themselves sleep or because they think it will help them avoid nightmares. Although drinking sometimes helps people fall asleep, it actually makes it more likely they will wake up during the night, makes it harder to stay asleep, and can increase flashbacks and nightmares. Using drugs and alcohol can also increase anger, create problems at work and home, and result in many other health problems. Alcohol may seem to work in the short term, but it causes even more problems in the long term.
Relationship problems / not being close to others: The symptoms of PTSD can get in the way of important relationships. Marital problems and divorce are common for people who have PTSD. They can have a hard time talking with others about what theyve gone through or what theyre experiencing. Some people with PTSD think others wont understand or be able to love them if they know some of the things theyve done during combat or deployments. People who have PTSD often worry that they arent good parents. They may have a hard time feeling love or closeness to other people.
Depression: Avoidance is a symptom of PTSD that keeps people from doing things that they used to enjoy. The result of avoidance can be depression as they stop spending time with other people or doing things that used to be meaningful or fun.
Helping Veterans With Ptsd
The first step involves educating yourself about how someone with PTSD typically reacts. According to the National Center for PTSD, a person with this mental health condition may appear angry, tense, or worried. They may also come across as numb, distant, or detached.
Veterans with PTSD may also be easily irritated, jumpy, or nervous, while being more demanding or protective at the same time. Intimacy issues are not uncommon with PTSD either.
All of these responses can affect family and friends, who may feel hurt, dejected, angry, or sad, especially if they dont recognize these patterns as being normal reactions to PTSD. So, creating a positive response first requires that you understand these responses enough to know they are a normal way of dealing with this condition.
The second step is to get the veteran the outside help he or she needs. This may involve counseling-type therapy sessions , or even family therapy so the everyone involved can work through the PTSD together. In this case, it helps to find a professional who specializes in the disorder.
- a brief bio, along with qualifications and credentials
- specialties, issues covered, and treatment approaches
- cost per session and insurance plans accepted
- contact information for setting up an introductory meeting
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How Many Veterans Have Ptsd And What Can We Do About It
Ask how many veterans have PTSD and you may be shocked by the answer. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 11-20 out of every 100 veteransexperience post-traumatic stress disorder a number that is both overwhelming and, unfortunately, not always acknowledged to the degree that it should be.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental illness that occurs after exposure to a traumatic event. Unable to cope with what has been experienced, the brain exists in a near-constant state of fight-or-flight, with intense physical and emotional reactions triggered by memories of the event that are spurned by high-anxiety situations.
For veterans returning from combat zones, the symptoms of PTSD often include nightmares, intrusive thoughts, and difficulties processing the emotions of the trauma. Other symptoms include difficulties sleeping and maintaining relationships, wild fluctuations in anger and aggression, and self-destructive behaviors.
So why do so many soldiers have PTSD? And why do some experience it but not others? Ina study published in Clinical Psychological Science, researchers determined that the stress of combat was a large contributor to veterans PTSD but usually not the only one. There is often an underlying, pre-combat psychiatric disorder, and the experience of directly doing harm to another is a common thread. An additional common factor was age, with younger soldiers being more likely to develop PTSD.
Combat Veterans Face Increased Risk
The work you did while serving can greatly impact the likelihood that you will develop PTSD. Among veterans who served in active combat, 17 percent reported symptoms of PTSD. There are several possible reasons for this.
First, combat veterans are more likely to suffer injuries in the line of duty. Physical injuries can contribute to this risk, particularly traumatic brain injuries that may affect how a veteran deals with trauma. As veterans face the struggle of physically healing from their injuries, many do not receive proper mental health care. In this way, the mental effects of trauma go untreated, which can greatly increase the risk of PTSD.
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One In Five Iraq And Afghanistan Veterans Suffer From Ptsd Or Major Depression
ThursdayApril 17, 2008
Nearly 20 percent of military service members who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan 300,000 in all report symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder or major depression, yet only slightly more than half have sought treatment, according to a new RAND Corporation study.
In addition, researchers found about 19 percent of returning service members report that they experienced a possible traumatic brain injury while deployed, with 7 percent reporting both a probable brain injury and current PTSD or major depression.
Many service members said they do not seek treatment for psychological illnesses because they fear it will harm their careers. But even among those who do seek help for PTSD or major depression, only about half receive treatment that researchers consider “minimally adequate” for their illnesses.
In the first analysis of its kind, researchers estimate that PTSD and depression among returning service members will cost the nation as much as $6.2 billion in the two years following deployment an amount that includes both direct medical care and costs for lost productivity and suicide. Investing in more high-quality treatment could save close to $2 billion within two years by substantially reducing those indirect costs, the 500-page study concludes.
“It’s going to take system-level changes not a series of small band-aids to improve treatments for these illnesses,” Tanielian said.
Ptsd And Veterans: Breaking Down The Statistics
Because of the nature of their service, military veterans face particular risk of experiencing traumatic events and subsequently developing post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. Drawing from the latest authoritative research, this page presents several important statistics pertaining to the incidence of PTSD among United States veterans.
Youll also find helpful information related to the nature of the disorder, the mental health problems it causes, and how it can be effectively treated. Though post-traumatic stress disorder is alarmingly common among Americas veterans, there are valuable resources, treatments, and mental health care available to those recovering from military-related trauma.
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Just How Prevalent Is Ptsd In The Military
The percentage of veterans affected by PTSD varies:
Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom: Between 11 and 20 percent of veterans.
Gulf War: About 12 percent of veterans
Vietnam War: Studies suggest about 15 percent of veterans, yet its estimated that about 30 percent have had PTSD in their lifetime.
What Is A Trauma
Most people experience one or more potentially traumatic events during their lifetime. The most common forms of trauma include motor vehicle accidents, natural disasters , physical or sexual assaults, or the sudden death of a loved one. Traumatic events often include situations in which your life or the life of someone else was in danger you experienced or witnessed an assault or severe injury or you were involved in an event in which someone was killed. Deployed military personnel are at risk for exposure to a number of unique combat-related traumas. Some of these events include exposure to gruesome injuries or human remains, which commonly occur after the detonation of improvised explosive devices or other explosions. Many deployed military personnel are frequently exposed to life-threatening situations, and some fear for their life on a daily basis. Some common sources of trauma in deployed military settings include exposure to the following:
- Seriously injured people
- Dead bodies, human remains, or body parts
- Blast explosions (IEDs, mortars, rockets, rocket-propelled grenades
- Fearing for your own life
- Severely injured or ill medical patients
- Hearing details or viewing images of traumatic events
- Severe sexual harassment
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What Makes A Person At Risk For Ptsd
Discharging a weapon. Discharging a weapon can create traumatic memories that increase the risk of PTSD. Witnessing an injury or death during deployment. Viewing injury or death can create feelings of intense fear, which is a strong risk factor for PTSD. Being attacked, fired at, or handling human remains.
New Ongoing And Published Research
VA is committed to funding research to better understand, diagnose, assess, and treat PTSD. VA research has led the way in developing effective psychotherapies for PTSD and exploring other approaches such as medications, behavioral interventions, and therapeutic devices. VA also has a strong track record of moving PTSD research into clinical practice.
VA researchers are working to better understand the underlying biology of PTSD, advance new treatments, and refine diagnostic approaches. Ongoing studies range from investigations of genetic or biochemical foundations of PTSD to evaluating new treatments and drugs.
VA research aims to improve Veterans quality of life by increasing the number and type of evidence-based treatments and identifying additional personalized approaches for treating PTSD. Current PTSD research includes studies of Veterans, their families, and couples. Veterans of all eras are included in these studies.
VA’s National Center for PTSD is the worlds leading research and educational center of excellence on PTSD and other consequences of traumatic stress. It currently consists of seven VA academic centers of excellence across the United States, with headquarters in White River Junction, Vermont.
In 2013, VA and the Department of Defense announced that they were committing more than $100 million to fund two new consortia aimed at improving diagnosis and treatment of PTSD and mild traumatic brain injury.
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How Common Is Ptsd In Veterans
When you serve in the military, you may be exposed to different types of traumas than civilians. The war you served in may also affect your risk because of the types of trauma that were common. War zone deployment, training accidents and military sexual trauma may lead to PTSD. Learn how many Veterans have PTSD.
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When you are in the military, you may see combat. You may have been on missions that exposed you to horrible and life-threatening experiences. These types of events can lead to PTSD.
The number of Veterans with PTSD varies by service era:
- Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom : About 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans who served in OIF or OEF have PTSD in a given year.
- Gulf War : About 12 out of every 100 Gulf War Veterans have PTSD in a given year.
- Vietnam War: About 15 out of every 100 Vietnam Veterans were currently diagnosed with PTSD at the time of the most recent study in the late 1980s, the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study . It is estimated that about 30 out of every 100 of Vietnam Veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime.
Other factors in a combat situation can add more stress to an already stressful situation. This may contribute to PTSD and other mental health problems. These factors include what you do in the war, the politics around the war, where the war is fought, and the type of enemy you face.
Among Veterans who use VA health care, about: