PTSD: Debunking Myths About This Medical Condition

Veterans are especially at risk for developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because they worked in situations and environments where they faced life-changing, traumatic events. Their deployment into combat and dangerous locations exposed them to events that could cause emotional, mental, and physical stress.

Myths about PTSDHowever, those who developed PTSD likely heard many myths about this medical condition—myths that might have stopped them from pursuing help and getting medical treatment.

PTSD Myths

It’s important for veterans with PTSD to talk to a healthcare provider about their symptoms. However, many avoid seeking treatment.

Here are some common PTSD myths that deter and dissuade veterans from getting the help they need:

  • Veterans who develop PTSD are weak. A veteran’s mental and emotional strength and endurance have nothing to do with whether or not he develops PTSD. Combinations of risk factors determine who's more vulnerable to this medical condition. If the veteran has a history of mental illness or won’t talk about his traumatic experience and has no one to support him, he’s more likely to suffer from PTSD. Conversely, those who learn to cope with PTSD through healthy behaviors such as exercise, joining a support group, and volunteering to honor a lost comrade are less likely to develop PTSD. But developing this mental illness or learning to successfully cope with it doesn't have anything to do with weakness or strength of character.
  • It’s impossible for veterans to recover from PTSD. This myth is possibly the most destructive for veterans, as it perpetuates an idea that’s completely not true and drives resistance to getting help. While PTSD isn’t always curable in everyone, it’s very treatable. Prolonged exposure therapy, cognitive processing therapy, and pharmacological therapy are three main treatment methods for those with PTSD.  Additionally, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is beginning to recognize "complementary and alternative medicine" (CAM) techniques for helping veterans with their PTSD, including yoga, medication, acupuncture, massage, and hypnosis. Treatment is different for every individual and every veteran, and often varying combinations are needed to find what works best.
  • PTSD doesn’t really exist and isn’t a real condition. This statement isn't true and can drive a veteran’s resistance to getting help. The stigma that the mental and emotional challenges a veteran faces after a traumatic event are “made up,” exaggerated, and/or “all in a person’s head” creates a barrier to seeking treatment. PTSD does exist and is recognized by the medical community as a genuine mental health condition that causes real symptoms. Witnessing or being involved in a traumatic event can change how the brain and body function. According to researchers, three parts of the brain present differently in people with PTSD: the medial prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus, and the amygdala.
  • People with PTSD should be able to “move on.” People who don’t understand PTSD believe that those suffering from this medical condition should be able to “get over it” and move on. However, the strong emotions experienced during the trauma can change a person’s brain chemistry. Thus, those changes often make it more difficult to move forward. Because PTSD is a medical condition, it requires proper medical treatment and care the way patients with cancer or other health issues need.

Cuddigan Law Can Help With Your PTSD Claim

The experienced legal team at Cuddigan Law recognizes and respects the sacrifices veterans have made to protect this country. If you’re a veteran suffering from PTSD, we can help you obtain the disability benefits you need to care for yourself and your loved ones. It’s possible that you qualify for financial assistance from the VA.

If you need help service-connecting your mental health condition and want to file for disability benefits, contact Cuddigan Law. Our attorneys have supported veterans for years, and we’ll carefully examine your case and advise you on the best approach for receiving the maximum in disability benefits. Call us today, and you’ll speak to an intake specialist for free.

 

Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska