Wednesday, June 3, 2020

PTSD Awareness Month | Helping Heroes and Military Family Members


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can affect anyone who experiences a traumatic event in their lives. PTSD Awareness Month is a good time to learn more about the disorder, what causes it, and who can be affected by it. First responders, members of the military, and military family members experience a significant amount of trauma in their jobs as well as in their personal lives. Helping heroes and military family members learn new healthy coping mechanisms is an important step toward working through their trauma in a positive way.

Trauma and PTSD

PTSD is “a serious potentially debilitating condition that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a natural disaster, serious accident, terrorist incident, sudden death of a loved one, war, violent personal assault such as rape, or other life-threatening events. There are currently about 8 million people in the United States living with PTSD,” according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).

When you experience PTSD, you can have physical as well as behavioral symptoms. You might have flashbacks or bad dreams in which you re-live the event. You could develop negative thoughts about yourself or others. Symptoms can also include increased irritability, not being able to sleep, and avoiding people or places that remind you of the event.

First Responders

When you’re on the job as a firefighter, police officer, or member of the military, dealing with PTSD from a traumatic event takes on a more challenging face. Career firefighters, for example, report a much higher level of PTSD than do volunteers. When it’s your job to deal with trauma every day, it can be especially difficult to recover from those experiences.

PTSD symptoms for first responders, including police officers, firemen, military personnel, and medical workers can include anxiety, depression, and emotional numbing, resulting in relationship problems and job failures, among other issues.

Helping heroes such as first responders involves helping you overcome the memories and nightmares that may haunt you. An emphasis on resolving and healing traumatic events that occurred as part of your work is especially important to your recovery from the effects of PTSD as a first responder.

Military Families

PTSD is often associated with the military. In fact, the term has morphed from the use of phrases such as “shell shock” during World War I and “combat fatigue” after World War II. However, military family members also experience PTSD. Being in a military family is not easy. Service members can go on deployment for many months at a time. The stress and worry can be unbearable for their families. Bad news or the strain of fear and worry can lead to PTSD in military family members.

In addition, being a military family member of a service member who is experiencing PTSD can present its own challenges. About 20% of military members who’ve served in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD and approximately 50% of the total number of military members who suffer PTSD do not get help. Often, military members and their families are concerned about how it might look if they asked for help with the disorder. However, when they don’t seek help, the complications build and the results can be devastating.

PTSD and Addiction

Drug and alcohol abuse are very common in people who are suffering from PTSD. You may be tempted to self-medicate to alleviate the symptoms associated with PTSD, such as depression, panic, or anxiety. Helping heroes and military family members involves working with you through therapeutic activities to help you confront your negative life experiences and any resulting depression, anxiety, trauma, anger, stress, or grief, so that you don’t have to turn to drugs or alcohol.

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we focus on helping you through our Heroes Program and our specialty area of military families. We want to see you succeed and will work with you on positive ways to address your mental health and addiction issues so you can lead a productive life in recovery.

Contact Us for Help with Your PTSD and Addiction

Helping heroes and military family members is a huge part of our mission at Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat. We tailor our services to your individual needs, including services for psychiatric inpatient and outpatient treatment, residential treatment services, and substance use disorder treatment. If you or a loved one is struggling with PTSD and addiction to alcohol or drugs, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat today. Our treatment center and medical detox is the ideal environment to begin a journey of lasting recovery.

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