According to research, around 7% of veterans and active personnel in the US armed forces have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When it comes to dealing with PTSD, loved ones play a crucial role in helping an individual deal with symptoms and overcome challenges. If your loved one is currently suffering from PTSD, this article from the Dallas Fort Worth Veterans Chamber of Commerce explores four ways to help manage and overcome the condition.
1. Seek Mental Health Treatment
As reported by the NHS, there are two types of treatments that have shown to be effective with PTSD – therapy and medication. Common therapies used include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT allows an individual to identify and face negative thoughts in a safe environment. Through this therapy, an individual can learn how to spot patterns of negative thought and develop the ability to replace them with objective and positive thinking.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: During EMDR, the individual is asked to recall traumatic memories while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation, such as side-to-side eye movements, or tapping your palm on an object.
In some cases, hypnotherapy has also been effective in helping veterans overcome PTSD. Also, when it comes to medicine, individuals are commonly prescribed antidepressants. The type and dosage of the medicine will vary between individuals and should be taken only after consulting with a licensed professional.
Mental health and addiction often go hand-in-hand. If you are struggling with substance abuse, look into free substance abuse treatment centers in your area. Many will be able to help you with both your addiction and mental health conditions. Look for the right facility for your specific needs to ensure you receive the best support during your transition back into civilian life.
2. Overcome Stigma of Treatment
As mentioned above, there are various types of treatment available for PTSD, however, veterans are often reluctant to use them due to the certain perceptions attached to mental health. Common perceptions include viewing therapy as a sign of weakness, being skeptical of therapies, and the fear of living a life dependent on medication.
An important aspect to consider about PTSD is the fact that it is treatable. If a loved one is showing hesitation towards meeting with mental health professionals, take the time to educate them on the effectiveness of treatments. This can include showing them testimonials of fellow veterans and the positive impact therapy has had on their life.
3. Take Steps to Re-integrate
One of the biggest challenges veterans face is re-integrating into civilian life. While in the military, veterans live a highly disciplined life, controlled by strict schedules and frequent high-pressure situations. Understandably, moving into civilian life will serve as a major lifestyle change causing stress and uncertainty. Here’s where the support of family and friends becomes paramount in the following areas:
- Help with Starting Over: Becoming a civilian can almost feel like a complete reset both in personal and professional terms. This can lead to difficulties finding a new purpose or motivation to do things. During times of need, help your loved ones gain clarity of thought and provide outlets they can explore to find new interests and hobbies.
- Develop Strong Personal Relationships: Create new daily routines which include your loved one. This can be as simple as eating together, watching a nighttime movie, or going for a walk. Additionally, allow them to personalize the home to their needs which can include rearranging furniture, undertaking DIY projects, and more.
- Assist in Finding Employment: The process of applying and working a civilian job can seem alien to veterans. Take the time to bring them up to speed with the state of the current job market and in-demand skills. Based on their interests, assist them in finding jobs they will excel in.
- Become an Entrepreneur: Vets make excellent entrepreneurs because they know how to handle pressure and can think on their feet. Help your loved one develop the confidence to pursue their business dream. Once they do, encourage them to connect the Dallas Fort Worth Veterans Chamber of Commerce for vital resources, networking opportunities, and support.
4. Seek Additional Assistance
Along with therapy, joining a support group can make a major positive impact on a veteran’s mental health. A prominent reason is that it allows veterans to be around others who can feel empathy towards what they are going through. Moreover, support groups are a great way to make new friends, receive advice from fellow veterans and learn effective ways to integrate into civilian life. While you can find social support groups in each region, here are a few prominent ones:
- Combat Stress
- SSAFA – the armed forces charity
- Help for Heroes
Help Support Your Loved One
Transitioning from military to civilian life can be incredibly difficult, especially if the veteran was on active duty. Their family can feel helpless to support their loved one’s needs. However, now that you have a clearer idea of the ways to help your loved one, you’ll be able to better assist them in managing PTSD and readjusting to civilian life.