Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that can develop in people after they witness or experience a traumatic life incident or event such as a natural disaster, sexual assault, combat situation, or a tragic accident.
For some people, symptoms of PTSD occur soon after the event. For others, symptoms may occur months or even years later. According to the VA’s Center for PTSD, nearly eight percent of Americans will suffer from PTSD sometime during their life.
PTSD is fairly common in military personnel. During combat, veterans may be sent on missions that expose them to extreme, life-threatening events. When veterans experience a traumatic event during their military service, they may exhibit some common stress reactions which can include—among many other reactions—shock, terror, anger, nightmares, inability to sleep, and social withdrawal.
The symptoms of PTSD fall into four general categories. The first is re-experiencing the event. It’s possible that veterans will have nightmares about an incident or flashbacks. Both can cause them to feel that they are going through the incident all over again.
The second category is an avoidance of similar situationsVeterans suffering from PTSD commonly try to avoid “triggers”—that is people or situations that bring back bad memories.
After traumatic military events, veterans may change the way they feel about themselves and others, which is the third common symptom. It’s not unusual for a veteran to feel guilty for the incident, or they may become uninterested in the life and activities they once enjoyed. They may also believe that people aren't to be trusted, and the world has become a dangerous place.
Finally, veterans suffering from PTSD may be constantly on edgeThey may regularly feel keyed up. They may be agitated, jittery, angry, or irritable. They may behave recklessly, or take up unhealthy habits such as smoking or using drugs and alcohol.
In 2010, the VA changed its eligibility requirements for veterans to receive disability benefits for PTSD. No longer do veterans have to provide proof of the event that caused their PTSD. This new rule is for combat soldiers as well as for any veterans who suffered fear of a hostile environment or terrorist activity.
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