By Anonymous - Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is a debilitating and life changing mental wound commonly associated with veterans experiencing trauma during wartime. Studies by the VA revealed PTSD is not limited to combat, it also includes military rape, childhood abuse and reckless behavior. (Christopher Bergland-The Neuroscience of PTSD) PTSD is considered a disorder to most professionals as well as the DOD (department of defense). PTSD is a natural response by the human brain to inoculate against further trauma. In this article I will compare and contrast studies completed by the VA on the efficacy of CAM (Complementary and Alternative medicine) and western medicine used to treat PTSD and why the “d” should be dropped.
When a soldier comes home they are given a mental examination, and if considered unfit for duty the military will tag you with a PTSD label, a polite way of saying you are no longer mission capable. If the soldier has been in a firefight the examination can happen in country. If a soldier admits that they are experiencing trauma from witnessing a friend step on a landmine, the examiner may deem the soldier unfit for duty and discharge them, and hold them from going home. Most soldiers will not admit it, and the possibility of losing careers plus the stigma, soldiers will alienate from most brothers in arms. To be deemed no longer mission capable creates animosity, hatred and mistrust. Ridiculed and removed from the brotherhood, the soldier almost always slips into depression, and can eventually lead to suicide, where a shocking 22 veterans commit suicide everyday (Department of Veteran Affairs). It sickens me to think that a soldier doing his job, will feel the need to commit suicide due to hazing from an egotistical and testosterone driven system.
The VA uses Sertaline or Zoloft to treat PTS commonly. However, a double blind study done on wounded veterans showed that only 41% of veterans showed reduced symptoms, while 33% had reduced symptoms using the placebo (Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology). It can help by repressing the emotions, and aid the mind's ability to process trauma and enables the confidence that it can be healed. VA reports on efficacy of CAM can be life changing however, After 6 weeks of mantra repetition in 90 minute sessions can send PTS into a full remission. Progressive muscle relaxation, transcendental meditation, and acupuncture also help veterans according to the VA. The stigma placed on PTS makes our soldiers and veterans feel weak, and experiencing this impedes daily life activities, further deepening depression and increasing the risk of suicide. If we teach that PTS is a mental wound, and just as much a part of life as common as a fractured arm or a deep cut. If we revise the standards by dropping the “d” and call it PTS, then those recovering from trauma could have a more acceptable identity and more open to getting the proper care they so desperately need.
By renaming the mental wound to PTS, it would reduce the impacts on soldiers lives who have received a mental injury due to trauma. The risks of losing your career could be reduced significantly as fewer soldiers would identify as insane, drastically reducing the personality changes and inner suffering. If we reframe trauma as a natural process, a common reaction to traumatization, it could change many lives of our friends and families that might otherwise commit suicide.
To bring down the suicide rates in returning veterans and the internal suffering, we need to look at trauma differently. The stigma attached that “you are no longer good enough,” is archaic, the Spartans would exile those deemed unworthy. Soldiers are taught that PTS is a wound due to not being strong enough to deal with the trauma from combat. They are taught the condition is life threatening and PTS will cause them to appear weaker than peers. However, the fact that they are standing after combat is a testament to the true inner strength. The “warriors only” mentality is detrimental, and out of place with advances today. We as a society, are evolving towards CAM and more worldly types of treatments. In one study elder vets from the Vietnam era accepted, and agreed that mindfulness and meditation techniques used for centuries in eastern medicine and in CAM, are beneficial to recovery from PTS (Mary Anne Liebert Inc).
PTS is a common part of life, and recovery is possible. When we correctly frame in the name and the way we perceive trauma, a direct challenge to western medicine’s assumption that PTSD as a life debilitating disorder. It is a natural response in the brain to prevent further damage, and when injured the individual is in need of treatment. A more useful way to prevent suicide and inner suffering is teaching that PTS is a natural reaction to overwhelming events. Then set an action plan rather than casting them aside, we need to understand that, the veteran is trained that he is no longer “good enough”, that way we can regulate, with verbiage some of the inner issues they are having as well as our common treatment etiquette. They way we talk to a veteran with PTS should be in a way that dose not offend them, never ask a veteran if they have killed someone. Approach them with same regard in any sensitive topic, with respect to their circumstances and cultural sensitivities. Dropping the “d” would foster a new mission of unifying the mind, by imparting empathy in the naming of our condition for those who have lived through extraordinary situations affecting our communities. The next time you see a PTSD victim treat them normally, with respect, accept and love them, and drop the d.