Many veterans who have served during wartime suffer from effects of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). And for many of them, memories of their wartime experiences continue to be upsetting long after they served in combat. We usually think of symptoms of PTSD occurring immediately after a traumatic event, or seeing symptoms in a loved one soon after they return from war. But many older veterans are finding that they have PTSD symptoms even fifty or more years after their wartime experience, or that their symptoms intensify over time. In some cases, these symptoms are delayed for many years and are triggered long after the traumatic events took place.
There are several reasons why symptoms of PTSD may increase with age:
· Retirement from full-time work may allow more time to think and you may have fewer distractions from your traumatic memories.
· Medical problems that come with aging may leave you feeling less strong as you used to be, increasing symptoms.
· Disturbing news and images of war on the television may bring back memories.
· You may have tried to cope with stress in the past by using drugs or alcohol. If you stop later in life without a healthier way of coping your symptoms may seem more intense and difficult to deal with.
· As you get older you are looking back over your life and your experiences to try to make sense of them, causing you to re-examine, or re-live traumatic wartime events.
For veterans, any or all of these factors may trigger what is known as Late-Onset Stress Symptomatology (LOSS). The symptoms of LOSS are similar to those of PTSD, although LOSS seems to be closely related to the aging process. With LOSS, veterans may have fewer symptoms, or begin having symptoms later in life. People with LOSS may have lived the majority of their life relatively well. As they begin to confront normal age-related changes such as retirement, loss of loved ones, or increased health problems, these stresses can trigger emotional reactions about their wartime experiences.
If you, or anyone you know, is having a hard time dealing with past wartime experiences, or are beginning to show signs of PTSD or LOSS, there are a number of things that can help:
· Do things that make you feel strong and safe in other parts of your life, like exercising, eating well, and volunteering.
· Talk to a friend who has been through similar experiences
· Join a support group
· Talk to a professional. Your doctor can refer you to a therapist or find a VA Medical Center in your area that can direct you to where to go for treatment.
· Educate yourself about PTSD and LOSS, and tell your family and friends about it. They will be better able to support you if they know more about what you are going through.
· Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is a lot of help available to veterans suffering from PTSD and LOSS
It may be difficult to ask for help, but you shouldn’t feel bad or have your life disrupted by a symptom of PTSD or LOSS. There are a lot of resources through the VA, and as a valued veteran of our military you are entitled to it!
For more information on PTSD or LOSS contact The National Center for PTSD.
(Information for this blog post was found on www.ptsd.va.gov)
Provided by your VA loan professionals at Low VA Rates