By Debbie Gregory.
Doctors began tracking a psychological condition among WWI combat Veterans as early as 1919. The condition then was known as “shell shock”. Veterans were suffering from symptoms such as fatigue and anxiety, but science could offer little in the way of effective treat. That was early in the 20th century.
No one comes home from war unchanged. Soldiers are supposed to be tough, cool, and ethically confident. But what happens when they have seen and done things that haunt their consciences? New studies suggest that the pain of guilt may be a key factor in the rise of PTSD.
Sleeplessness, anger, anxiety and a sense of isolation are symptoms of PTSD. But with early detection and adequate access to counseling, the psychological and neurological effects of combat are treatable.
The Department of Defense has taken significant steps to expand research into psychological and neurological injuries. But inadequate screening and shortages of mental health professionals in the military have kept troops from getting the care they need.
PTSD is primarily treated with psychotherapy. An emerging field for the treatment of PTSD is animal therapy. Who better than man’s best friend to help Veterans overcome PTSD? An animal can draw out even the most isolated personality, and having to praise the animals helps traumatized Veterans overcome emotional numbness. Teaching a dog service commands develops a patient’s ability to communicate, to be assertive without being aggressive, a distinction some struggle with. Dogs can also relieve the hyper-vigilance common in Veterans with PTSD. Some participants report they finally got some sleep, knowing that a naturally alert soul was standing watch.
Another alternative therapy is yoga. Yoga is not usually the first thing that springs to mind when thinking about treatment for post traumatic stress disorder in Veterans. But from the Veterans Administration to the Pentagon, yoga classes are becoming not just commonplace, but in some rehabilitation programs, mandatory.
Veterans unhappy with traditional treatment alone should do their research and talk to their doctor.