PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is defined as a mental health condition triggered by experiencing or seeing a terrifying event.
“Sometimes people think of PTSD as a passing phase or reaction. Also, like hypertension or diabetes, once you have PTSD, it must be treated seriously, must be treated medically, actually. We have more veterans returning from various engagements around the world; we are going to be diagnosing and treating this condition," said Bayview Behavioral Hospital psychiatrist Dr. John Lusins.
Wilmer Rodriguez is an United States Marine veteran who signed up when he was 18 years old. At first glance Rodriguez is a funny, kind and a passionate family man. The 27-year-old suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. It's something most people have heard about but may not really understand.
“Every day is different, and it’s definitely not the same as yesterday, so you can’t stick to a routine; you have to change things up. If you stick to a routine, then you get comfortable and that could be dangerous over there. Unfortunately, some veterans don’t come back the same. They come back different,” said Rodriguez.
Soldiers returning from active duty from places like Iraq or Afghanistan with symptoms of PTSD are unlikely to seek help.
“There is nothing to be ashamed of. I used to be ashamed of it, I used to think I could battle it alone. Fortunately, there was help out there, and I contacted the VA immediately, and they helped me out. How I cope with it, I talk about it with my family. Keep your mind busy and get a hobby. Myself, I listen to classical music to keep it soothing. I do card tricks to keep my hands busy, and my mind practicing different things. It is just hobbies, simple as that,” said Rodriguez.
Here are the signs to look for when it comes to PTSD.
“Distressing dreams, flashbacks, nightmares are often talked about. Mood disorders are a part of it; they are not distinctively from this, such as depression, anxiety, separate from those things. So there are multiple components to PTSD that are important to identify and address,” said Dr. Lusins.
Texas is home to 1.7 million veterans, or 6.7 percent of the total population and 8.6 percent of the civilian population age 18 and older. One 2008 report estimated that 31 percent of current veterans have PTSD , around four times the prevalence rate in the general population. More specifically, some analysts believe that PTSD occurs in 11 to 20 percent of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, as many as 10 percent of Desert Storm veterans, and about 30 percent of Vietnam veterans. Female veterans are more than twice as likely to develop PTSD than male veterans because sexual assault is more likely to cause PTSD than other events. Women are more likely to blame themselves for trauma experiences, thus internalizing the trauma.
Symptoms of PTSD:
Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms):
Memories of the traumatic event can come back at any time. You may feel the same fear and horror you did when the event took place.
Avoiding situations that remind you of the event: You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.
Negative changes in beliefs and feelings: The way you think about yourself and others changes because of the trauma. This symptom has many aspects, including the following:
Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal: You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. You might suddenly become angry or irritable.
PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event. But for some people, they may not happen until months or years after the trauma. Symptoms may come and go over many years. So, you should keep track of your symptoms and talk to someone you trust about them. If you have symptoms that last longer than four weeks, cause you great distress, or disrupt your work or home life, you probably have PTSD. You should seek professional help from a doctor or counselor.