Veterans returning from active service often find it difficult to cope with the trauma they experienced in the military. Too often, these veterans avoid getting the help they need or just don’t know that there are options available to them. Fortunately, there are resources available for these veterans that will help them with disorders such as PTSD.
What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is fairly common among veterans. PTSD is diagnosed in people following a traumatic event. Symptoms may not occur for months or even years after the event. Each case is different, but people with PTSD often share similar symptoms.
There are three primary types of symptoms experienced by those with post-traumatic stress disorder:
- Emotional numbness coupled with the avoidance of anything that could remind the person of the trauma. Triggers may include specific places, people, or activities.
- Having flashbacks or nightmares that force the person to re-experience the trauma.
- The inability to concentrate or sleep. The person may also feel irritated, fearful, anxious, or quick to anger.
No matter which branch of the military a person comes from, it is not uncommon for them to experience trauma from their time in the service. If you are a veteran or know of a veteran that seems to be exhibiting symptoms of PTSD, then you should make an effort to get help. There are ways to overcome or help a person with PTSD, and no one should have to suffer from the disorder alone.
Military Social Workers and PTSD
Military social workers can be an excellent resource when attempting to overcome trauma. Some military social workers are provided by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, or the VA. The VA understands the importance of providing help to our veterans and is a large employer of military social workers for this purpose. In addition to the VA, military social workers may also work in military-related agencies or their own private practices.
Military social workers are dedicated professionals that are committed to helping veterans return to a healthy civilian life. Plus, the field is growing with over 100,000 workers added by 2026. These social workers can provide counseling and crisis intervention among other things. Some military social workers also provide mental health therapy, which can be beneficial for those with PTSD.
Therapy can be an effective treatment for PTSD according to the National Center for PTSD. Trauma-focused psychotherapies are often the most recommended form of therapy for PTSD. This therapy focuses on the traumatic memory or its meaning. Sessions can include visualization, discussion, or thinking about the trauma. Some therapists will work on changing negative beliefs attached to the trauma.
Pharmaceutical Advancements and Medications for PTSD
Currently, there are multiple medications available that treat PTSD. These medications are often the same as those used to treat depression or anxiety. These drugs must be prescribed and cannot be purchased over the counter.
Antidepressants are typically prescribed to combat the symptoms of PTSD. These are either selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Common SSRIs include Zoloft, Prozac, and Paxil, along with their generic versions. A commonly prescribed SNRI medication for PTSD is Effexor and its generic counterparts.
These medications are intended to treat PTSD by putting brain chemicals back into balance. They can be incredibly effective in treating PTSD, but it should be noted that there is the potential for the patient to exhibit side effects. These side effects may include a decreased sexual desire, dizziness, sweating, headaches or upset stomach. Often, patients will notice an improvement in their condition after 4-6 weeks of taking the medication.
Just as therapy and psychotherapy techniques have evolved over the years, advancements in the field have led to more effective medications for the treatment of PTSD. Scientific advancements and improved technology have spurred innovation in drug developments.
A staggering $2.6 billion on average is spent by biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies over the course of 10 to 15 years to bring just one new drug to market. The resources and efforts put into the development of every drug produced ensures that the medications of the future will be more innovative and advanced than the PTSD drugs of today.
An Optimistic Future for Veterans with PTSD
It’s unfortunate that so many veterans come home to suffer with PTSD. However, they are not alone. There are plenty of resources and treatment options available. The advancement of pharmaceuticals means that even better and more effective treatments could be just around the corner.