PTSD: Myths and Reality


By Debbie Gregory.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is not strictly a battlefield injury. Victims of accidents, serious injury or even severe mental stress can suffer very serious effects from the disorder. However, the general public continues to believe a number of myths about the disorder as people both in and out of uniform work to recover. And recovery can be a long and difficult process. Brig. Gen. (Dr.) John M. Cho, deputy chief of staff for operations with Army Medical Command, has said “The invisible wounds — post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury — are just as damaging as the visible ones. They impact the families as well as the soldiers.”

Often those who suffer, or their families, must first overcome the misperceptions they have before they take the first important step of seeking help.

The most common myths:

  1. Seeking help will kill my career: Actually, the opposite is true- going without help/treatment can negatively impact your career. PTSD can lead to worsened health conditions and cause individuals to have angry outbursts, fight or have difficulty at work and in their personal relationships. That, in turn, could lead to actions that will destroy careers. Instead, service members who suffer from PTSD can seek help, work to get their health under control and, under a new regulation, they do not have to release information about their treatment for deployment-related psychological health conditions.
  1. Everyone will know: Untrue. Treatment for psychological health is generally confidential. Service members who still are not comfortable seeking help at the base health facility can talk to their chaplain about receiving off-base resources.
  1. Treatment doesn’t work: Scientists have logged decades of research in treatment for PTSD, and have found several forms of counseling and medications that have proven to help PTSD symptoms. Non-traditional treatments, such as sports, have also shown promising results. Both science and the DOD continue to develop and research treatments and have developed mobile apps to help those who suffer from symptoms.

PTSD is a very real and difficult disorder. Finding help and treatment for every service member who suffers from PTSD is so important to the current administration that President Obama recently hosted a symposium about Traumatic Brain Injury at the White House. The VA has also exponentially increased its spending and manpower dedicated to helping service members find treatment and deal with PTSD symptoms.

The bottom line is simple… it is crucial to seek treatment and begin the journey to healing from PTSD. The programs are in place and help is available. The key taking the first step and asking for help.