LifeStyleSocialCan soldiers develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Can soldiers develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

As stated by Army Veteran Daniel Somers, I am left with basically nothing. To trapped in a war to be at peace and too damaged to be at war.[1]

Various research studies have presented data, likewise, as stated by Daniel Somers. In one major study, 13.5% of deployed and undeployed soldiers detected as suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after witnessing Iran and Afghanistan war. Other research studies have narrowed that as many as 500,000 U.S troops and army who have worked for over 13 years have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. The Indian Armed forces have also lost 900 soldiers, who suicided in the last 7-8 years, and the major came to suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

A psychological condition developed when a person has experienced a traumatic event in their recent past has been scary, dangerous, and overwhelming. In current situations of COVID-19, many people have to experience conditions wherein one feel traumatised or overwhelmed by their past or traumatic event they have witnessed recently. Still, many people recover from the initial symptoms due to various factors, such as family and peers, financial resources, community resources and many others. Many people find it challenging to come out from the trauma and even experience a repeatedly traumatic event. The anxiety, fear symptoms can stay for a more extended period. Likely, the case with individuals enrolled in the army who left their families places for the nation but after a traumatic war or a disaster, find it difficult to adjust to their everyday lives.

Let’s take an example from a prominent English web series named Peaky Blinders. The series revolves around the life of a gangster and shows a different angle. Still, this series has also presented how being in a war (the main character Thomas Shelby was in a fight) and witnessing thousands of people’s death. Injuries affect individuals from the military and the army. In this series, Thomas Shelby is dealing with many anxiety issues and even hallucinations, stress and nightmares regarding the wars and traumatic events) converting their stress, anxiety, nightmares and numbing into a more prolonged range disorder, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Symptoms of Post-traumatic Disorder in Soldiers:

Post-traumatic stress disorder has various signs and symptoms that can help identify individuals suffering from psychological condition to provide better treatment. But, to be noted is that every individual experiencing a traumatic event do not experience or witness post-traumatic stress disorder due to various internal factors (coping abilities, self-esteem, self-confidence, resilience, perceived locus of control) as well as external factors (severity of the traumatic event, duration of the traumatic event, peer and family support, social conditions, economic conditions). Sometimes, one can experience symptoms of this psychological conditions just after the traumatic event, as noted by various researches in many studies. Still, many-a-times, people show different signs and situations in 3 months, as presented in the TV series, Peaky Blinders and the Bollywood Movie, Raazi (where Alia Bhatt played the role of a member of RAW).

But, how one can identify individuals suffering from this unique psychological condition? It can be through identifying the various signs and symptoms mentioned below:

  • Flashbacks: This is the most prominent symptom in the army soldiers and individuals suffering from this kind of disorder. It is as reliving the trauma again and again and unable to think about the traumatic event. It can also include physical symptoms, a higher adrenaline rush, racing heart, uncontrolled breathing and sweating.
  • It is a feeling of alienation from family, friends, and social community and a sense of loss even when being around many people.
  • Having nightmares and vivid memories of the traumatic event that occurred in the recent past.
  • Feeling of numbness and a loss of interest, especially in those activities which the person liked to do earlier in their life before the event occurred.
  • The person might feel tense, shaky, unable to relax, become restless, be easily startled, and have difficulty sleeping and sleep routine, increasing the number of repeated thoughts and nightmares about the traumatic event.
  • A person might feel the loss of concentration, memory loss, and negative feelings can occur, and even guilt and blame could occur. For example, as in peaky blinders, the lead character blames himself for the death of near one for years that put a higher degree of a toll on his mental health.
  • The person might become easily irritated, have mood swings. Also, he/she can easily have anger outbursts that can be dangerous and irritating for the person himself/herself and the others surrounding or living with them.
  • Panic attacks and a higher degree of anxiety can also occur.

When one knows about these symptoms and can identify those in individuals, especially soldiers who have witnessed a recent traumatic event, they should be treated immediately by professionals and rehabilitated in ordinary life.

Treatment Of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder In Soldiers

  • COUNSELLING– It is considered best for soldiers to treat this unique psychological condition. These therapies and counselling sessions given up by professional counsellors and psychotherapists can help the individual work on their problems and identify their problems and work towards healing. These will help the individual understand their thought process, reactions, and coping with those repeated thoughts and actions. These sessions also help the individual to accept the reality, work on gaining insight for the client, and the client can be able to make peace with their past and traumatic event.
  • MEDICATION– Medications are many-a-times used with soldiers to treat these kinds of disorders, but only when any professional prescribed those drugs or medicines; otherwise, it is strictly prohibited to take one on your own. These medications also help lower the degrees of physical and psychological symptoms of this disorder, as it controls heartbeat, breathing, sweating, diarrhoea, and anxiety and panic attacks. These medicines also improve sleep and reduce tension and irritability in the person. The class of medications most commonly used for PTSD is called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, but only after taking advice from professional help.

In the end, anyone around the world can experience any unique psychological condition or a psychological disorder irrespective of their caste, class and background. But, Mental Health only needs candour, sunlight and more unashamed conversations. 

Ishika Khandelwal
Ishika Khandelwal
Hi Everyone, I am doing major in Psychology and I am a Mental Health enthusiast and working for two non-governmental organizations in order to provide education to unprivileged children. I have a lot of interest in reading as well as writing. I am a true extrovert and love to be being around people.

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