Trauma occurs when someone experiences a stressful or frightening event that is difficult to cope with. People who have experienced trauma often have lasting symptoms that affect their daily lives. While anyone can suffer from trauma, veterans are at an increased risk of experiencing it.
Even veterans who do not see active combat can experience trauma, too, as basic training is often challenging, and stressful, and requires them to undergo intense situations that could happen upon deployment. With that being said, those who do see combat are certain to experience at least one traumatic situation.
Since trauma affects veterans at alarming rates, professional treatment is often necessary to improve quality of life, obtain good mental health, and prevent negative coping mechanisms like substance abuse. Thankfully, treatment centers like First Step Behavioral Health offer veterans clinically-proven trauma therapy and holistic treatment that is both sensitive and compassionate.
How Often Does Trauma Lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Among Veterans?
While almost every veteran has experienced trauma at some level, not everyone who experiences a stressful event will develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). To explain, PTSD is a mental health condition that stems from experiencing traumatic events. However, post-traumatic stress disorder is more likely to develop when a person does not receive treatment, have support from loved ones, or effectively address their emotions.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), 7 out of every 100 veterans will develop post-traumatic stress disorder. This is slightly higher than the general population, where 6 out of every 100 people have PTSD.
It is also important to note that veterans who are deployed are 3 times more likely to develop PTSD than those who are not. This is largely because combat exposes individuals to witness or personally experience violence.
When left untreated, PTSD can cause veterans to develop a substance use disorder. This occurs because drugs and alcohol can temporarily numb your emotions. With that being said, long-term substance abuse will only worsen the symptoms of mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder.
What are the Signs of PTSD?
If you are a veteran who has dealt with trauma, you might notice symptoms like flashbacks or nightmares related to the traumatic event, mood changes, or an inability to sleep. These are all signs of PTSD.
The common signs of PTSD include:
- Having nightmares related to a traumatic event
- Experiencing flashbacks of the event
- Avoiding things or people that remind you of your trauma
- Experiencing emotional numbness
- Forgetting parts of the traumatic event or being unable to speak about it
- Dealing with trust issues and having a negative outlook on the world around you
- Feeling guilt or shame related to the traumatic event
- Having a hard time sleeping
- Difficulties concentrating
- Being easily startled by loud noises or surprises
- Behaving in unhealthy ways, such as abusing drugs or driving recklessly
If you are experiencing the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, it’s important to seek professional help. Thankfully, First Step Behavioral Health prides itself on offering each patient a variety of therapies aimed to reduce the symptoms of PTSD and lessen the severity of traumatic memories. Additionally, you will have access to holistic services that help you recover emotionally, physically, and spiritually, all at the same time.
How Does Trauma Therapy Help Veterans Recover From PTSD?
There are multiple types of trauma therapies used to help veterans recover from PTSD or other lasting effects of trauma. The type of therapy you participate in will be based on your specific needs, personality, and goals for recovery.
The different types of trauma therapy used to help veterans recover include:
- Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) – this form of therapy helps you identify how your trauma has affected your thought processes intending to change how you think about yourself, your trauma, and the world around you.
- Prolonged Exposure (PE) Therapy – this tactic asks you to slowly address your trauma at a speed that is comfortable for you, while your therapist helps you tackle uncomfortable emotions, thoughts, and symptoms that arise.
- Cognitive Behavioral Conjoint Therapy (CBCT) – this type of therapy is intended for couples whose relationships are affected by trauma or PTSD through increasing interpersonal communication, changing negative thought patterns, and education on how trauma affects people.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy – EMDR requires you to think about and possibly recount traumatic events while you receive bilateral stimulation (eye movements), which can reduce the stress and emotion related to a specific situation or memory.
What Holistic Treatments are Used to Help Veterans Heal From Trauma?
In addition to clinically proven trauma therapies, holistic treatments are used to offer a “whole person” approach to recovery. For example, exercises like yoga or meditation can reduce the physical, emotional, behavioral, and spiritual effects of trauma by connecting your mind with your body.
Common types of holistic treatments used to help veterans overcome trauma include:
- Yoga and meditation
- Mindfulness techniques
- Acupuncture and massage
- Nutrition counseling
- Art and music therapy
- Equine therapy
During one of these physical activities, you will learn emotional regulation skills, identify negative behavioral patterns, and lessen the effects that trauma has had on your body.
According to research published by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), holistic treatments can be effective in treating trauma and PTSD because they require less discussion about trauma and do not carry the risks of pharmaceutical treatment options.
Get Connected to Holistic and Compassionate Care for Veterans With Trauma and PTSD
If you are a veteran who has suffered from trauma or deals with post-traumatic stress disorder, First Step Behavioral Health is here to help. With our compassionate and holistic approach to trauma therapy, we offer veterans a well-rounded option for recovery.
1st Step’s addiction and mental health treatment program for veterans in Florida provides exceptional support and aims to ensure a full recovery, no matter what you or your loved one is struggling with. You may even be able to use your VA benefits to cover the costs of your care.
To learn more about trauma therapy for veterans, contact us today.
- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): How Common is PTSD in Veterans, Retrieved January 2024 From https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/common/common_veterans.asp
- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): PTSD Basics, Retrieved January 2024 From https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/what/ptsd_basics.asp
- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): PTSD: Treatment, Retrieved January 2024 From https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/ptsd/treatment.asp
- The National Library of Medicine (NLM): Complementary and alternative therapies for post-traumatic stress disorder, Retrieved January 2024 From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7360199/