Dealing with PTSD as a veteran - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Dealing with PTSD as a veteran

(Source: University of Central Florida Foundation) (Source: University of Central Florida Foundation)
(Source: WAFF) (Source: WAFF)

It’s no secret that many of those in the military who see combat, come back changed.

Local psychologists at Redstone Arsenal spoke about how a diagnosis of PTSD can affect the way they’re seen by themselves and others.

PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is defined as a mental health condition triggered by experiencing or seeing a terrifying event. It’s classified as “very common” and seen in more than 3 million U.S. cases per year.

“It takes away your ability to work, relate to family, it changes how you see yourself and the world,” explained Dr. Jana Lovelace, a psychologist at Fox Army Health Center on Redstone Arsenal.

Dr. David Ferguson is a psychologist at Fox Army Health Center on Redstone Arsenal and described how anyone can develop the disorder.

“PTSD takes one traumatic event. It’s real easy to get PTSD with an automobile accident. But because most people drive, they expose themselves so it goes down. With the military, a soldier can go on a convoy, can have 10 traumatic events in a single convoy. It is much more complex and more difficult to treat,” said Dr. Ferguson.

The VA reports, more than 15 percent of Vietnam veterans are diagnosed with PTSD, 12 percent of those who served in the Gulf War, and 11 to 20 percent of veterans in the Iraq or Afghanistan operations have PTSD in a given year. Click here for more information

“We also see how destructive it can be to lives. Often times if there is a trauma, the person has a very incomplete picture, so one of the important pieces to that is putting it back together and have an accurate representation of what happened,” said Dr. Lovelace.

When a veteran is diagnosed, people may start to treat them differently. “The first thing is to treat them like people, they’re people with PTSD. Someone who’s gone through a horrible experience, but at the end of the day they are a person like we are,” said Dr. Lovelace.

She emphasized, if you struggle with PTSD, you don’t have to do it alone.

“The pain of PTSD and the trauma is pretty common, but really suffering with it is optional, there are easier ways, we treat it really well so you don’t have to continue to suffer like that,” explained Dr. Lovelace.

“We would just like to make it possible for a soldier or anyone entitled to our care. we owe them, the commitment and sacrifices they make, and help them any way we can,” said Dr. Ferguson.

If PTSD is something you think you struggle with, the psychologists we spoke to encourage you to not be afraid to get help.

You can find more information on Fox Army Health Center's website by clicking here.

You can also call the behavior health department at 256-876-9085. You may also visit the Military One Source Counseling’s website or call them at 1-800-342-9647.

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