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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Veteran PTSD Indicators

Question: My son is returning from serving in the army next month and I was wondering how I could tell if he has any mental health problems.  I keep hearing about veterans having problems, so I want to know what to watch out for.
                                                                        -Jennifer M., Glendale, NY
Answer: A large number of returning service members are dealing with mental health issues including post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety disorders.  Therefore, it is important to watch for signs of any of these problems so that they can be addressed properly without waiting for a crisis.

Here are a few of the more common symptoms that turn up for returning veterans: Increased irritability or  getting angry over small things, hyper-vigilance- being overly nervous about noises or other things that are happening as well as difficulty sleeping  due to anxiety, flashbacks and disassociation- reliving in the mind a particularly scary moment from the battlefield, relationship problems- this can be caused by the long separation during deployment but can also be a related to increased irritability due to depression or PTSD.

As always, if you are concerned that there may be a problem, it never hurts to get an evaluation.  In the case of a veteran, I would recommend contacting the Veteran Affairs (VA) or finding a mental health professional that specializes in veterans or trauma treatment as they would be best suited to evaluate and treat any issues.

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