Click The Image Below to Learn About
A Documentary From Young Veterans
Realizing That "You Are Not Alone"
The National Center for PTSD
(Department of Veterans Affairs)
WEBSITE - http://www.ptsd.va.gov/
EMAIL - email@example.com
The PTSD Information Line - (802) 296-6300
PTSD IN THE FAMILY?
Stress Disorder is a relative newcomer to the field of mental health.
Originally chronicled as a condition affecting Vietnam veterans, it has
become commonly used to describe a set of symptoms for survivors of
plane, rail or car crashes, terrorist attacks, as well as victims of
rape, sexual assault or other forms of trauma. It has also been applied
to emergency service workers as well as present-day returning veterans
of Middle East combat.
In order to
receive the diagnosis of PTSD, a person who has witnessed a traumatic
event where there was actual or threatened death must persistently
re-experience the event by distressing dreams, feelings or illusions as
well as persistently avoid any stimuli associated with the original
trauma. Psychic numbing is common and the person may also avoid
experiencing any feelings. The condition of PTSD may continue on for
years without any outside help, often to the frustration of concerned
family members. Sufferers of PTSD may lack self-esteem, feel insecure,
not handle stress well, and may actually feel guilty for having
survived the trauma or for not "doing enough" when the trauma
In families, PTSD
is rarely talked about. The sufferer may be experienced by the family
as being "moody," depressed, or may be an abuser of drugs or alcohol.
The family usually focuses on trying to control the PTSD sufferer's
behavior rather than seeing the behavior in light of "the big picture."
Left untreated, PTSD sufferer's moodiness can evolve into chronic mood
instability, mood swings, verbal or physical abuse, along with
exacerbation of any present addictions.
When partners of PTSD sufferers are asked what they felt about their partner's problems, this is what they have said:
- They feel overwhelmed by pressures of having assumed total responsibility in the home situation
- They feel afraid to say anything, fearful of yet another emotional blow-up
- They lose sight of their own needs, deferring to the emotional neediness of the partner
- Their self-esteem becomes worn-down as a result of being de-valued by the partner
- They feel responsible for making everything better
- They feel dragged down by the partner's negative views and feel caught in the middle between their partner and the children
of PTSD most often adopt a code of silence about their trauma, fearful
of being judged or fearful of re-experiencing the traumatic event. This
refusal to discuss what they are feeling extends unfortunately to
concerned family members who would be in an excellent position to
advocate for their loved one to get help. For this reason, PTSD is
considered "an invisible injury." Left untreated, PTSD can last a
lifetime, and can contribute to alcoholism, drug addiction, divorce,
and domestic violence.
who have PTSD are considered to be disabled. Currently, PTSD is the
number one mental health problem among veterans returning from the
conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, followed closely by nondependent
drug abuse and depression. Some PTSD does resolve on its own, while
other cases need therapeutic intervention with skilled mental health
practitioners. See "Newsweek" magazine dated 3/5/07, for complete
article on "Forgotten Heroes."
Here are the ways family members can help a PTSD sufferer:
- Become informed about the condition
- Advocate for increased mental health services for returning vets
for your own family member with medical and psychiatric providers, tell
them your side of the story, and how the PTSD affects the family
- Do not take criticism personally and set a firm boundary about domestic violence
there is a situation with substance abuse, get educated about how to
intervene and how to access the treatment recovery network
- Do not give up!