The 2014 movie American Sniper told the story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle—and brought post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) into the national spotlight.
Soldier’s heart. Shell shock. Combat fatigue. Beginning with the Civil War, these terms were common names for what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder. Soldiers returning home from war often find that they have been changed by their experience. For so many, the horrors of combat are not forgotten. Many veterans are plagued by haunting dreams, anger, guilt, extreme reaction to loud noises—which can be debilitating if untreated and strains their relationships.
According to the National Center for PTSD, it is estimated that for those veterans who served in Vietnam and in more recent conflicts, 11-30% will suffer from PTSD (www.ptsd.va.gov).
Dr. Brandon Hayes, Clinical Director at WLCFS Christian Family Counseling, specializes in providing treatment to those affected by PTSD. In 2015, Dr. Hayes delivered the keynote address at a seminar in Tacoma, WA for WELS military contact pastors who minister to people with PTSD. In his keynote, Dr. Hayes touched on the symptoms of PTSD as well as the unique ways recent military conflicts affect the development of the disorder, which differ from those of previous conflicts. According to Dr. Hayes, “We are blessed by all of the recent attention and research surrounding PTSD. It is so important for people to know that effective treatments exist. Thankfully, PTSD is treatable and more people are seeking out care. There is help available.”
Movies like American Sniper are helping to raise consciousness of PTSD, and organizations like the National Center for PTSD are working tirelessly to increase awareness and connect more people with effective treatment. Those treatments can include therapy with a trained mental health counselor and medications targeted toward treating the depression often associated with PTSD.
PTSD is not something that only affects veterans. Anyone of any age who experiences a traumatic event—like abuse, being a witness to violence, surviving a natural disaster or accident—can be susceptible to PTSD. Furthermore, PTSD impacts friends and family members of individuals struggling with the disorder. Helping educate loved ones and offering them support can enhance the effectiveness of PTSD treatment.
What are some signs of PTSD?
- Flashbacks that relive the trauma
- Bad dreams
- Frightening thoughts
- Strong feelings of guilt, depression or worry
- Loss of interest in favorite activities
- Being easily startled
- Feeling tense or “on edge”
- Difficulties sleeping
- Angry outbursts
If you suffer from PTSD or know someone who does, there is help available. PTSD can affect anyone of any age who has experienced a traumatic event. For more information and to explore counseling options, please contact WLCFS Christian Family Counseling at 800-438-1772 or request an appointment on our website. There are also many valuable resources available through the National Center for PTSD (www.ptsd.va.gov) and through the National Institute of Mental Health (www.nimh.nih.gov).