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The Truth Behind PTSD

Updated on September 27, 2013

PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is often associated with soldiers who come back home from the war zone. Many people have heard of it, but this sickness is often overlooked. People do not know what's going on behind the minds of the patients due to lack of knowledge. Larry King talked to some experts regarding this disease that has plagued our troops who came from Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Actors Stephen Grayhm and Filmmaker Matt Dallas sat down with King as they narrated their experiences with people who were diagnosed with PTSD. They are raising funds to fund the filming of a movie about the mental disorder. According to the dictionary, PTSD refers to the persistent mental and emotional stress occurring as a result of injury or psychological shock involving disturbance of sleep, constant vivid recall of experience, dulled responses to others in the outside world. Grayhm's grandfather was a POW during the World War II. He recalled how his grandfather endured physical and emotional torture during the war. His grandfather escaped prison several times and even slept on bunk beds. He mentioned that his grandfather would even sleep through his stories while being they are being told.

An alarming study was released and it was revealed that 20% of veterans who came form Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. Half of these people do not seek treatment. This is due to social stigma. In the army, veterans will tell you it's not cool to have a mental disorder. They will tell you to have a thick skin and be brave to weather the storm. When these soldiers come back home, their biggest challenge is when they are trying to assimilate into civilian populous that doesn't have the same thoughts and feelings that these people have. These soldiers are aware of what they went through was abnormal, but these people are normal.

Gary Sinise, an actor who has helped veterans when they come home through his charity, informed the viewers that PTSD was referred to as "shell shock" When war goes on, destruction unfolds right before the soldiers' eyes and it takes a toll on them. There is an overwhelming number of veterans who commit suicide while in combat in 2012. There are 22 veterans who die of suicide ever day in the United States. One active soldier dies of suicide after 25 hours. These cases reach across branches of generations. Unfortunately, nothing is done about it.

Stephen Cochran, who served in the US marines and is now a country singer told his story and his experiences with being diagnosed with PTSD. When you hear the word PTSD, the term becomes a big deal in the military. When you hear the word "disorder" to a man or a woman, you are telling them they are broke. This leads to suicides and mental breakdown. According to Cochran, it took him a year to come to terms with PTSD. He tried to hide his feelings about it. He didn't even write a song about his experiences while serving in the military. He claimed that he tried to keep himself busy so as not to think about it, but it turned out that he couldn't avoid it all together. He said, "you can only hold it for so long until your loved ones see it." He even tried to harm himself by locking inside his room. He couldn't sleep for 12 hours and he had 12 medications. He never believed in suicide, but when he confined himself, he wanted to take his own life. According to Cochran, people should be informed of PTSD because most people are ignorant about the mental disorder.

He pulled himself back from the depth through music. It served as a therapy for him by writing songs. He penned the song When A Hero Falls which is about his colleague who served with him in the marines and was eventually killed in Afghanistan. Cochran said that the Veterans Administration is doing its best to help the veterans, but it boils down to the citizens. We have to ask the question, "What as 99% can we do to protect the 1% who has written a check with their lives?" There's never enough that can be done unless we tell ourselves that 22 veterans commit suicide every day. Cochran gave an advice to those veterans who might be needing help with PTSD. He said that these veterans should join military organizations. Work with other veterans because it's therapeutic. He said that they should remind themselves that the word "crazy" is not allowed in the premises.

Dr. Roman Rosenthal is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry in Georgetown Medical School. He did research on PTSD and found out that there are about 1.6 million soldiers who come home from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD, but there are no effective treatments. Dr. Rosenthal discussed the early warning signs of PTSD. They are bad sleep, insomnia, nightmares, jumpiness, easily triggered by little things, flashbacks or memories of being back on the battlefield, numbing, and withdrawal. Rosenthal said that he wasn't shocked the by the alarming rate of suicides every year. He discovered a brand new treatment that can alleviate the symptoms of PTSD. He is referring to Transcendental Meditation. He studied the effects of transcendental meditation with a group of combats who suffer from PTSD. The results were astonishing. Their symptoms reduced by 50% after 6 weeks. According to Rosenthal, transcendental meditation should be taken seriously.

Transcendental Meditation is learning how to use a sound or a mantra,( a term that you say in your head repetitively), and think about that sound twice a day for 20 minutes while sitting comfortably. It is not faith based meaning you don't have to believe in anything and there is no cosmology involved. Anybody can do it.

Another way to reduce the symptoms of PTSD is through Eye Movement Desensitation and Reprocessing. This was introduced by Francine Shapiro. You slew your eyes from side to side while thinking over a traumatic event. It helps process that event and turns that event into a positive direction. Rosenthal discussed the long term effects of PTSD when it is not cured. These are depression which often leads to suicide. The suicide rates among veterans are off the charts. Rosenthal mentioned that these alternative treatments cannot be overlooked.

Another long term effect of PTSD is social stigma. The perfectly abled body that he or she used to be is now regarded as a psychological cripple. There is a stigma that is often attached to PTSD. People think of you as someone crazy and the symptoms are beyond repair. Divorce is a common trend in most people who have PTSD. Their partners who are not diagnosed with PTSD cannot put up with their behavior. Rosenthal narrated that there was a man who had his girlfriend in a choke hole and thought she was the enemy when she bumped into him. Jumpiness and withdrawal have taken its toll on him.

Rosenthal said that people who are not serving in the military can get PTSD. Those people who are victims of natural disasters such as the tsunami, Hurricane Sandy and even the 9/11 attacks can have PTSD. Those victims of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse can get PTSD. According to Rosenthal, nobody is immune to PTSD. If you suffer from repeated trauma, you can get PTSD. This is a universal problem that we shouldn't be turning a blind eye on.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder knows no one. This is a grave concern that we should all be taking seriously. It is important to seek help from professionals once we see the warning signs of PTSD. There is nothing wrong with seeking help. There are measures on how people can get rid of the symptoms. Alternative and complimentary medicines can be of use in treating PTSD. People should be informed about this mental illness so that the victims can have a support group and regain their confidence.


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