On this day every year, we observe and tend to focus on the heroism and sacrifice of US Armed Forces members: active, reserve, veteran, and retired. Each day, these individuals voluntarily make sacrifices to defend our liberty and way of life; but many face psychological challenges – deserving more than acknowledgement.
While I cannot completely comprehend what life entails in the service, the discipline required by the military fosters virtues every one of us have the capacity of relating to: selflessness, humility, and prudence. While we all may dream of a peaceful world where military service is no longer necessary; let us find ways to serve those who have and currently devote their lives for the rest of us living in a culture valuing independence and autonomy. As part of increasing awareness and support, I wanted to provide an overview to a well publicized mental health-related disorder commonly associated with service members, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PTSD involves a variety of symptoms due to indirect or direct exposure to a traumatic event some of which can include: severe anxiety, fear, flashbacks, irritability, aggression, intrusive thoughts or avoidance of triggers. A (trauma) trigger is an internal or external psychological response prompting an involuntary recall of a life-threatening experience. An internal cue may be exhibited through somatic or emotional experiences, whereas an external cue includes people, places, or sounds.
This condition can affect any individual exposed to a life-threatening event. Even children are susceptible to developing PTSD. Early trauma exposure in childhood and subsequent witnessing trauma later in life are also known triggers of PTSD. Childhood adversity and pre-existing anxiety and depression can be known risk factors for this disorder.
The following are resources that may be helpful to those who are affected by PTSD. It is provided for educational purposes and not intended to substitute for medical or mental diagnosis or treatment.
Organizations offering programs and services
- The Heroes Project
- National Center for PTSD
- Wounded Warrior Project
- The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.
- Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect by Jonice Webb, PhD and Christine Musello, PsyD
- Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving by Pete Walker
- It Didn’t Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle by Mark Wolynn
Mobile phone applications
- Mindfulness Coach – Guided exercises and information on mindfulness offered by the US Department of Veteran Affairs
- PTSD Coach – Guided exercises to help individuals recognize and manage stress
Lindsay Enright, MS, LCMFT provides couple, family, and individual therapy virtually to those located in Maryland, Virginia, and California. Call or email today to set up your first appointment or a complimentary consultation with Lindsay.