A study in 2008 showed that about 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffer from PTSD or major depression, and about 320,000 may have experienced at least a mild concussion or brain injury in combat (Zoroya). American society is witnessing a hasty rise in the need for treatment of PTSD for returning soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq.
The medical definition of PTSD is that the person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both the following were present: The person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others, The person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror (Lanham).
During the civil war, PTSD was often called the soldier’s heart, battle fatigue, shell shock. PTSD was not considered an actual diagnosis until just 1980. (Dobbs) However, PTSD has been around for as long as men have been killing one another. Its symptoms include the abuse of alcohol and other drugs, an overall emotional numbness punctuated by outbursts of rage, severe depression and recurring nightmares. In extreme cases, it can lead to suicide or murder. One military doctor described PTSD's symptoms as "going from zero to combat speed in nothing flat." (McGirk) A clear example of an extreme case would be the marines, Travis and Willard Twiggs. Travis was one of the first Marines to write candidly on his violent symptoms of PTSD. After he released his article, he and his brother attempted a double suicide by driving off the Grand Canyon. After failing, they hijacked a car, were involved in a police chase, and then he shot his brother and then himself. (Finnegan) In his article he had written: "We have got to make our Marines and sailors more aware of PTSD before they end up like me and others." So, if Travis were aware of his disorder, we have to wonder what went wrong.
Soldiers wounded during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan often develop post-traumatic stress disorder and depression months after getting out of a hospital, instead of soon after suffering their injuries, a new study found. The earlier the syndrome is identified and treated, the better (Bernstein). Premature treatment is better because symptoms of PTSD may get worse. Dealing with them earlier aids in stopping the symptoms from worsening in the future. If the disorder progresses, an individual may fail to benefit from formal treatment or drop out of treatment early. Many soldiers tend to find it much simpler to self medicate with drugs or alcohol rather than using appropriate treatment. Unfortunately, use of alcohol and drugs can actually intensify symptoms of PTSD or depression over time. Increased substance use is also a potential risk factor for suicide. (Finnegan)
There are many treatments for this developing disease. The first step to being treated is admittance. When a soldier can move forward without being in denial, it is so...