Recovering From Military PTSD

Thursday, June 15, 2023

While anyone can develop post-traumatic stress disorder after a terrifying or life-threatening event, PTSD is an issue most frequently associated with military service. That’s not surprising – a 2020 survey found that 83% of all U.S. veterans and active-duty service members have experienced PTSD since the events of 9/11. 

Trauma’s Far-Reaching Effects

If you’re a current or former military service member, you may know how debilitating PTSD can be. The stress of living with this condition affects your impulse control, memory and ability to learn. Because your brain struggles to process shocking life events, the resulting changes can become overwhelming.

You may fit the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis if these symptoms have interfered with your daily life for at least a month.

  • Avoidance: Unwillingness to be around people, places or things that remind you of the traumatic occurrence
  • Reliving the event: Having flashbacks, disturbing thoughts or bad dreams
  • Anxiety and reactivity: Difficulty sleeping, hyperarousal, angry outbursts or startling easily
  • Cognition and mood: Feelings of guilt, low self-esteem, memory and concentration issues or loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities

The challenges of coping with these symptoms might push you to engage in addictive or otherwise risky behavior. About half of people who enroll in drug and alcohol treatment also meet the criteria for PTSD – a rate five times higher than the general population.  

Causes of Military PTSD

Unsurprisingly, members of our armed forces who have served in combat are at the highest risk of having PTSD, but experiencing battle is only one significant stressor for military service members and veterans.

  • Injuries and chronic pain: Forveterans who get injured in the line of duty, the pain is often an inescapable reminder of the traumatic event, which can make PTSD even more severe.
  • Multiple deployments: Moving far away from your family and friends can be stressful, and relocations that separate couples are especially difficult. Feelings of isolation can cause or worsen PTSD symptoms.
  • Military sexual trauma: Military sexual trauma includes assault, discrimination and harassment. Women are far more likely than men to face these issues in the line of duty. Female veterans who survive MST are at an even higher risk of developing PTSD than those who serve in combat.
  • Transitioning out of the military: Adjusting to civilian life can be hard after getting used to the structure and tight-knit culture of military service. Due in part to overwhelmed outreach services, veterans are especially vulnerable to homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse. Many of the skills learned in the military do not translate into the civilian workforce, and people who lack the resources to find employment may become unhoused.

Healing a Dual Diagnosis

People with military PTSD may start relying on alcohol or drugs to deal with their painful memories and avoid complex emotions like guilt. Unfortunately, a growing substance abuse problem will make your mental and physical health worse.

When someone has co-occurring PTSD and addiction, it is a dual diagnosis. Treating these conditions is complex, but it’s possible to overcome them with a comprehensive plan. At Celebrate Hope, everyone who comes to our dual-diagnosis facility receives a thorough assessment to identify mental health issues like PTSD, anxiety, depression and other co-occurring disorders. Our team specializes in Christian dual-diagnosis rehab and holistic recovery.

Many people with a dual diagnosis feel helpless to control their situation. Celebrate Hope is a haven for people who want to walk their recovery journey with Christ’s love and redemption. Contact us to learn more about our full continuum of care.

Contact Our Accredited Christian Rehab Center

Reach out to recover your relationship with God.