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PTSD: The Silent Erosion of the Mind

December 20th, 2004

By Sal Roach

While the similarities between the conditions soldiers are facing in Iraq and Afghanistan cannot compare to the conditions Americans face in the streets everyday, there are some eerie similarities to at least one condition:

PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which refers to the damage done not by an event’s occurrence, but rather, the effects that linger long after that event has happened.


Soldiers often experience this when they return home after months or years of battle. The carnage and destruction they see on the battlefield leaves them with an inability to move forward with their lives because the stress was too great for them to deal with alone. Because of this, they have pushed it somewhere into their subconscious, where it sits and manifests into an even greater problem.

Often times it is uncontrollable.

While the stress incurred by a soldier in battle in no way compares to the little things that we stress out about in our everyday lives, the treatments for such disorders are often the same.

There are two forms of PTS: the first being an acute case, which usually goes away 3-6 months after the event has occurred. In these cases, simply talking with people or putting yourself in a peaceful environment that is far removed from the event that sparked your problem is all that is needed.

However, for more serve cases of chronic PTSD, it can take years to work everything out.

In dealing with death, loosing financial stability, infidelity, physical handicapping or an emotional loss, the philosophy of the modern American has long been to "suck it up" and move on.

The more one sucks up, the more the storage of stress occurs. The explosion of this compression is often devastating.

In dealing with military cases, studies have shown that a soldier talking with other soldiers was the best way for them to work through what they are keeping inside. For non military people dealing with lingering stress, talking with someone in the same field or same situation as you can actually help, as you see someone else who has experienced the same events you have and is still there.

It is important to see a physical example of achieved success so that you will be mentally prepared to move on with your life. You must realize that those thoughts and that history will never go away, but bringing the problem to the surface will decrease the stress.

Heavy counseling sessions have proved helpful, and the military is giving its soldiers anti anxiety medications such as Paxil and Zolof, which have shown to calm down patients without leaving them completely comatose or "Out of It."

Another method for dealing with after affects of a stressful situation is known as "Downloading." Here, the patient can keep a journal and write down what is causing them the stress. Putting it down on a piece of paper or onto a web log is great therapy, and can actually move the stress from one place to another. Seeing this happen is extremely important for the patient.

The military now carries with it into combat, along with its multi million dollar bombs, councilors and psychiatrists who are waiting very close to the front lines so that they can deal with the soldiers after the battle.

Mental health is no longer a fad, but part of your medical concerns as much as your teeth, eyes, heart, blood pressure and weight.

If dealing with extremely stressful situations does not occur, the effects could be devastating, ranging anywhere from horrific nightmares to physical shakes and an inability to encounter even the smallest challenge.

If you or someone you know has recently experience a significant, emotional event, you need to deal with the mental ramifications immediately.

The Mental and Physical created the complete package.

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