Monday, June 30, 2008

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD - War Trauma)

It has been estimated that 30% of Vietnam war veterans, 10% Gulf war veterans, 6% to 11% Afghanistan war veterans and 12% to 20% of veterans of the Iraq war have suffered from Post Traumatic Stress disorder. This is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to one or more terrifying events.

The history of PTSD date back to the early 1800’s where military doctors began diagnosing soldiers with "exhaustion" following the stress of battle. This "exhaustion" was characterized by mental shutdown due to individual or group trauma. Around this time there was a syndrome in England called ‘railway spine’ or ‘railway hysteria which bares a resemblance to what we call PTSD today. This was found by people who had been in the catastrophic railway accidents of that time.

In World War I and II the term ‘shell shock’ and combat fatigue’ were terms to describe veterans who exhibited stress and anxiety after being in combat. The official designation of "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder" did not come about until 1980 when the Third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) was published.

This anxiety disorder occurs when you are afraid and your body activates the fight or flight response. This reaction to fight releases adrenaline, which is responsible for increasing your blood pressure and heart rate as well as increasing glucose to muscles (to allow you to run away quickly in the face of immediate danger). However when this danger has gone your body begins to go through a process that shuts down the stress response and this process involves the release of another hormone known as cortisol. If your body doesn’t generate enough cortisol to shut down the stress reaction you may continue to feel the effects of adrenaline. Trauma victims who develop post-traumatic stress disorder often have higher levels of other stimulating hormones (catecholamines) under normal conditions in which the threat of trauma is not present. These same hormones kick in when they are reminded of their trauma.

Military Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a very serious disorder with symptoms such as self harm, anger, violence and drug addiction as well as depression. All of these are common symptoms of Military Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and sadly affects thousands of soldiers every year who have serviced in the armed forces. Treating Military Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is done through psychotherapy and basic counselling but can take a lot of time and patience.

Sadly a number of people who are experiencing and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as ‘war trauma’, is said to hugely increase in the next few years due to the number of soldiers who are fighting in areas such as Helmand and Basra. There are concerns that the Iraq war is producing more cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder than any other conflict in decades, one of the main reasons for this is that the violence has been so widespread and exposure to it so constant over long periods of time. The suicide bombers, roadside mines and the constant threat of attack within the Iraq war poses a unique challenge to the mental health of the soldiers who are serving in it.

If you are one of those suffering and are thinking of claiming compensation for you suffering then you should do so right away. It is your civil and legal right to claim compensation for injuries psychological and mental. No-one should suffer in silence.

About the Author

Carolyn is the webmaster of Accident Consult Ltd, specialists in Claiming compensation for PTSD.

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