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How is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) showing up in YOUR life?
After the horrors of war, many ex-servicemen and women find themselves facing another battle: post-traumatic stress disorder. As many as one in three ex-servicemen and women develop post traumatic stress disorder and some even go on to take their own lives.
Young men leaving the British armed forces are up to three times more likely to commit suicide than their civilian counterparts, a Manchester University study has shown.
Their experiences in conflict zones such as Iraq or Afghanistan can leave these veterans with an awful lot of sadness and despair. On the other side of the Atlantic, suicide rates by US military personnel have reached an all-time high this summer, and it has been suggested that one of the main causes is multiple deployment.
In August, the US Army confirmed that 26 active-duty soldiers and 12 reserve soldiers died by suicide in July, which is the highest number ever recorded in 1 month in this population. During the ten year UK study period, 233,800 individuals left the armed forces, 224 of whom took their own lives.
What could be the reasons for this worrying trend? Well, the truth is, that overall, the suicide rate among ex-military personnel is similar to that of the general population over some age groups. But young veterans aged under 24 stood out as being exceptionally at risk. So often, veterans end up in homeless hostels for all kinds of reasons; alcoholism, broken marriages and relationships, depression, violence, and dealing with overwhelming trauma, upon trauma, upon trauma, leads these men to live lives of isolation, in their minds and body's as well as their being physically homeless.
The most common reason for hospitalization of Army personnel is now admission for some type of psychiatric illness, including PTSD, depression, other anxiety disorders, or substance abuse. This isn't suprising when you account for the difficulty a minority of individuals experience making the transition back to civilian life, whilst at the same time, worrying about or preparing for redeployment. The shock is that, once PTSD is triggered, how quickly veterans can become homeless and spiral downwards into physical and mental illness.
So what can be done?
To help the veteran become successful in overcoming all the physical and emotional symptoms, the hypervigilance, the nightmares, the anxiety and panic attacks, you have to address the trauma at all levels. Trauma is at the root of these issues in nearly all cases. The memories are as alive now as if they happened yesterday, not years ago. So the aim is to help the veteran to realize and believe that the event he is experiencing isn't really happening right now, but is a projection from the past - only then can he be free of it.
During a traumatic moment, the body becomes overwhelmed. Everything that's going on around at that time becomes overwhelming and the mind can't handle it, so the mind and body freeze momentarily while they're trying to make sense of what is happening. The information is too great and distressing to be processed all at once and so you only process the bit you need to survive at that time. The rest is downloaded into the body. Tiny packets of information are stored in the cells of the body. Memory isn't just recorded in the brain, it's recorded in every cell of the body.
The brains primary function is to manipulate the conditions and information it is fed, and continually use that data to keep us safe, to allow us to survive. One of the ways it does that is to remember how we respond to trauma. So it saves the survival strategy for use later just in case the same thing happens again. Everything that happens gets compared to this original program and pattern matching forces us to respond in an ever increasingly stronger fashion to the stimuli that is bringing the trauma into memory.
This means that a lifelong emotional problem, like PTSD, can be caused by an incident that covers a comparitively tiny proportion of the timeline of that life. But the memories and unprocessed data remain in the cells of the body and mind, building up huge internal walls as protection, with every ounce of being ready to recreate and interpret every noise, incident, feeling or threat, as if it were the original trauma. This hypervigilance is overloading the system, making the sufferer overreact to every stimuli in an exaggerated way.
What EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) does is creates a gap between the original traumatic memory and the new stimulus triggering it. To diminish and eliminate the emotional attachment that the body and the energy system have to the pre-programmed behaviour. Telling the mind and body there is no real threat here, takes away the emotional charge and breaks the association to the sudden sounds, images, tastes or smells, that are triggering the fight or flight response.
Do I have to be suicidal, or depressed to benefit from this type of therapy?
Not at all. I would so much prefer that you got the help you need early, rather than wait until you are at the brink of suicide. It is a recognized fact that more veterans commit suicide at home than die in battle. More veterans end up in prison at home than are ever captured and imprisoned in a warzone. More veterans end up homeless, on the street, destitute and in a worse position than the people in some third world country that they have tried to liberate and rescue from their own poverty and hopelessness. What thanks is that? More veterans end up alcohol dependent, drug dependent, in mental hospitals and rehab centres, repeat offenders, divorced and alienated from their kids than you will ever see in civilian life.
We owe them more than a handful of pills and group therapy!
EFT is my therapy of choice for PTSD and other anxiety disorders. I guarantee you will see a change; a few sessions of EFT can really make a huge difference in your life. PTSD is probably the most severe form of emotional issue you can have. These men and women can't sleep, they have nightmares, they have flashbacks, intrusive memories, they don't fit into society, their marriages and families fall apart, they have nothing but problems that weren't necessarily their fault. And if you've reached this far, it's probably because you already know something about it and are suffering right now. That, I think, is the tragedy of PTSD. The sufferer is desperate for answers and help. I look forward to talking to you soon, please use the email address below.