Military veterans have experienced traumas that many of us couldn’t even imagine.
They’ve undergone traumatic events, lived in extreme weather and socio-political conditions and were often faced with disturbing realities on a regular basis. These intense experiences have the potential to cause significant damage to the mental, emotional and physical well-being of a person, which can then negatively impact their daily lives.
Trauma affects people in different ways, but one of the most consistent manifestations of military combat trauma is the development of various mental health issues.
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the different mental health issues that affect veterans, especially veterans suffering from military combat trauma.
Trauma and the brain
The short- and long-term influences of trauma on the brain are still being researched, but the impact is undeniable. Regardless of whether the trauma is physical (such as due to a brain injury) or mental (such as post-traumatic stress disorder), trauma can take a significant toll on the brain.
It can change our brain chemistry and neural pathways, as well as inhibit our emotional network. This can lead to an inability to regulate emotions, resulting in sudden, extreme or uncontrollable reactions, and foster habits of raging, running away, shutting down and other potentially harmful avoidance behaviors.
The negative ways trauma alters our brain can lead to new, unhealthy neural patterns that get “stuck” and, therefore, continuously enforced. This is one of the reasons why treating trauma as soon as possible is so important—the longer it’s postponed, the stronger these new (and negative) pathways become. It’s important to note, however, that healing and changing are always possible, no matter how much time has passed or the circumstances that currently surround you.
One of the ways unhealed trauma manifests itself in a veteran’s life is through mental health issues.
Veteran mental health issues
Mental health issues among veterans are a grave concern, as military trauma combined with a mental health disorder can easily make an individual a danger to themselves and others.
While there are many different kinds of disorders and illnesses that military men and women can develop following their service, there are certain mental health conditions that are particularly prevalent in veterans.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the most common mental health disorders in the veteran population. This condition develops after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event and is characterized by symptoms such as nightmares, hyperarousal, avoidance behaviors, flashbacks and intrusive memories and thoughts.
Anxiety disorders (as well as panic disorders) are marked by ongoing feelings of paranoia, anxiety and hyperarousal.
Depression is another prevalent mental health issue among veterans, especially with the impact of combat service and the challenges of transitioning to civilian life experienced simultaneously.
If you or someone you know is struggling with poor mental health or exhibiting signs of a mental health disorder, send us a message today.
Find a veteran program near you
Veteran programs are programs that are fluent in how to help veterans work through various mental, behavioral and substance abuse issues.
Veteran programs have a strong understanding of military trauma and the unique challenges veterans face in their lives, enabling them to provide highly effective support and treatment.
Here at The Light Program, we’re a proud partner of the Veterans Affairs Community Care Network (VA-CCN), which are treatment facilities that are pre-approved to accept veteran benefits. This enables us to provide you with timely and convenient access to various forms of mental and behavioral healthcare.
Get veteran mental health resources
The Light Program specializes in offering outpatient mental and behavioral health treatment programs to veterans and non-veterans. Our staff is equipped with the education, skills and training necessary to care for veterans on the highest level. If you are unsure how to access your benefits or have any questions about navigating the VA system to pay for care, please reach out to our experienced admissions team