PTSD: A National Health Crisis

December 20, 2012

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Listen to this Episode

Joyce and Mike speak with Michelle Bellon about her new novel, “The Complexity of a Soldier,” in which she depicts a soldier going through post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Successfully integrating a soldier back into civilian life requires providing him or her with trauma evaluation services such as thorough psychiatric assessments and examination of post-traumatic stress symptoms, which include anxiety, nightmares, change in eating pattern or sleeping pattern, fear of leaving the house, inability to carry out job responsibilities, fear of public places, and startling at loud noises, to name just a few.

However, statistics show that mental health screenings of returning troops has little to no effect on their actually receiving services. Less than 10 percent of service members who receive mental health treatment were referred through the screening process, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Here are a few startling statistics:

  • Lifetime occurrence of PTSD in combat veterans is 10 to 30 percent.
  • In the past year alone, the number of diagnosed cases in the military has increased by 50 percent over the previous year.
  • Studies show that one in every five troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan has PTSD.
  • It is estimated that there are currently 300,000 American veterans of the Iraq war struggling with PTSD.
  • Troops that served two, three and even four tours of duty were dramatically more at risk due to increased stress levels.

What we have learned about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has raised our consciousness about these concerns also among people who have experienced repeated incidents of medical illnesses as well. Just as soldiers are at higher risk of PTSD the more “tours of duty” they serve, so too people with on-going medical issues, cancer recurrences, or other needs for repeated surgery are also at higher risk of PTSD.

Early intervention with supportive services can help both the affected person and his or her family survive this crisis intact.

Michelle Bellon, The Complexity of a Soldier, a novel, available at bookstores.

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