According to government data, mental health problems affect as many as 20 percent of all veterans. These issues affect the health and well-being of relationships, employment, and life in general. Overcoming mental health problems can help with maintaining optimal health.
Some veterans’ most common mental health problems today include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain, and substance abuse.
Here’s more on the mental health problems affecting most veterans.
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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Traumatic events trigger PTSD. Time served in the military can affect you as a proud service member, whether on active duty or in peacetime. Being away from family and in a faraway place can affect your mental health.
There’s no actual time when PTSD can strike. Sometimes it affects veterans immediately, while for others, it can take time to build.
Symptoms of PTSD include emotional or physical changes and relationship issues. Common health issues with PTSD also have memories of trauma and flashbacks. Those suffering may also wake up in the middle of the night with nightmares.
PTSD also triggers outbursts and sometimes alcoholism or drug abuse. Those with PTSD also might feel shame or even guilt. Many vets struggling with PTSD may not even know there’s a problem, especially if they live alone or become separated from family and friends.
Over time, and with the proper treatment, most do get better. To reach optimal health, a doctor may require therapy or medication. Those with PTSD will work towards repairing relationships and returning to a routine.
There’s a good chance you might even know PTSD is affecting your physical and mental health. As a proud service member, it’s best to check with a PTSD lawyer, who can help you examine your health and well-being.
Living with chronic pain can be debilitating. Pain affects daily life and tasks such as working, exercising, and even sleeping. Veterans who suffered trauma while serving in the military often suffer chronic pain thanks to injury.
Joint pain, musculoskeletal pain, and back pain are some of the most common chronic pain issues. There are plenty of things to cause injury, including military accidents or injuries during combat. Pain comes at all levels and affects everyone differently.
Injuries such as these can be life-altering and can affect the rest of your life. Chronic pain prevents you from enjoying optimal health. You may not be able to work or only work in a limited capacity.
Chronic pain can also affect you emotionally and your relationships. It can also affect your mental health.
Veterans living in rural areas sometimes deal with chronic pain differently. The VA estimates those living in rural areas become addicted to opioids much easier than those in urban areas. Lack of services could be the reason.
However, there are treatments for chronic pain, such as medication or managing your chronic pain with physical therapy or exercise.
Many people seek a non-drug alternative to managing chronic pain for fear of addiction. Many services and programs are available to deal with vets’ issues specifically.
Less than one percent of all veterans are amputees; however, losing a limb is traumatic. In some cases, vets may lose two limbs or even their eyesight.
Amputations mean adjusting to a new level of living, such as artificial limbs and physical therapy. It affects family life, relationships, and employment – just to name a few.
Mentally, vets may not be able to adjust to losing a limb. The stress of using a prosthetic or learning to use other limbs differently is challenging for many.
However, thanks to technology and better resources, living as an amputee is better than in the past. There are better limbs available and more resources for amputees. Many vets who lost a limb can return to everyday life.
Depression likely affects more veterans than science would like to admit. Mental health issues surrounding depression can lead to so many other problems. People with depression feel sadness, loneliness, and even hopelessness.
Depression can also lead to headaches and fatigue. Those with depression might also suffer from tiredness or a lack of motivation. You might also suffer from anxiety, irritability, and a lack of appetite.
Suicidal thoughts and depression often coincide. If you are thinking about suicide, call a hotline immediately.
With the proper counseling, there is help. Mental health counselors can help you get to the root of the problem and prescribe treatment. In some cases,
Mental comes with an enormous stigma, especially with people admitting they have a problem. It’s important to admit there’s a problem and get help.
One of the most common health issues affecting veterans today is substance abuse. Many veterans struggle with adjusting to their new assignments or living arrangements during deployment. Being away from family and friends can lead to social isolation.
Upon leaving the military, many vets wrestle with adjusting to civilian life. Vets may longer have control over certain things. In addition, the ‘new’ way of doing things and new tasks may be cumbersome.
For example, post-military life may force vets to learn new skills or become educated. If vets can’t cope, many turn to drugs and alcohol.
Substance abuse is also combined with other problems such as PTSD, chronic pain, and even amputations. Vets often find that drugs and alcohol can take them to a different place mentally or physically, only to harm existing relationships and employment. Moreover, some are unwilling to change their addiction, making matters worse.
While substance abuse is widespread, there are programs to help veterans succeed and become sober.
Most Common Mental Health Problems of Veterans
Veterans’ most common mental health problems include PTSD, chronic pain, amputations, depression, and substance abuse. While living with these mental health issues is difficult, it doesn’t have to be life-changing. Thanks to many programs that specifically help vets, there is help.
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