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A Soldier’s War On Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

19 January 2009 No Comment

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is not biased in choosing victims, and once PTSD has begun its long reign over someone’s mind, that person slowly begins to break down mentally and physically as they cope with what he or she has been through. PTSD’s history goes as far back as the mythical Trojan Wars in Homer’s Iliad and is as current as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (Taylor). PTSD is a complex disorder because of how it taps into one’s primal responses to life-threatening events and the strong psychological reaction a person has when exposed to this traumatic event (Ullrich). “Only the dead have seen the end of the war.” Plato said this two thousand years ago about war, but it still rings true for those in the 21st century, as they must continue an internal war within themselves (Plato Quotes).

The 21st century soldier, with all the high tech weaponry that is used to fight enemy combatants anywhere in the world, will take on an unknown enemy far more dangerous to the human mind, PTSD. Combat soldiers will suffer emotional breakdowns from the stress of PTSD, as they struggle every day trying to forget what they have seen and deal with images and sounds that could remind them of those traumatic events. Even though the process of becoming a soldier has changed over time, so has PTSD during its three major points in history: Pre-Vietnam, Vietnam, and Post Vietnam. In those three eras of PTSD, diagnosing and treating soldiers has changed in order to help these soldiers cope with those traumatic events.

There are different ways that PTSD can change a person when involved in a traumatic event; for soldiers being involved in combat is the most common form of PTSD he or she could develop. Gayle Beck, professor of Psychology, states “Certain “person factors” contribute to an individual’s chances of developing PTSD…including prior experiences of trauma, previous emotional problems, or “pre-trauma psychopathology,” and gender” (Fryling). Taylor would continue this thought process on what PTSD does by saying “It is common if not normal for veterans to experience dread, guilt, or sadness when recollecting their combat experiences (Taylor).” With these two ideas in mind, someone could assume that as a soldier sees more combat, the odds of developing PTSD increase considerably, especially for soldiers on the front lines. PTSD was introduced in 1980, in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and is described as an anxiety disorder having three distinct variations (Beall, Taylor).

The first variation of PTSD is acute PTSD, which might be common with combat support personnel, as the symptoms last as long as three months and then they are completely gone or go into a recession. The second variation of PTSD is chronic PTSD, and is the most common form of PTSD for front line soldiers as the symptoms usually last more than three months to even years after the traumatic event happens. The third variation, which is also most likely common for combat soldiers, is called delayed onset PTSD, meaning that after a certain period after the traumatizing event, usually six months, symptoms then manifest themselves within that person and could either become acute or chronic depending how severe the symptoms become (Bayse).

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