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PTSD Resources Lacking for Nonveterans

PTSD Resources Lacking for Nonveterans

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When people think of PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, often the first image to come to mind is combat veterans. After all, the disease was not even called PTSD until the 80s. The first popularized term for the condition came after WWI with terms such as “shellshock” and “combat exhaustion.” However, millions of nonveterans experience PTSD.

The disease for a long time was automatically associated with the military and in some ways, still is today. However, we know now that post-traumatic stress disorder does not just affect our soldiers, it affects people who have gone through any sort of trauma.

Recently, a new article was released that reported how treatment options for nonveteran PTSD sufferers are severely lacking. A new study in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry find that compared to what the Veterans Health Administration and Defense Department make available, treatment resources for nonveterans are much less cohesive and helpful.

PTSD is a serious condition in which an individual experiences tremendous stress or anxiety after a traumatic event. Some common causes of the condition are:

  • Military combat
  • Violent assault
  • Natural disasters
  • Sexual assault
  • Childhood abuse

In women, sexual abuse is one of the most common causes of PTSD and addiction, according to the National Center for PTSD at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Researchers believe that information and effective therapy is not easily available for nonveteran sufferers and suggests areas for improvement.

If left untreated, PTSD can result in substance abuse and depression symptoms that progressively get worse overtime. Symptoms of PTSD are distressing and include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Emotional distress
  • Physical pain
  • Increased cravings for alcohol or drugs

Lead researcher, Judith Bentkover, professor of the practice in the Brown University School of Public Health, believes more options need to be available.

“The best PTSD treatment model we have can be found within the VA,” Bentkover said. “Kids have PTSD. Women have PTSD. It’s not just a disease of veterans, although they are a very important and poignant cohort of people who have it. Sexual assault victims, abused children, survivors of natural disasters do not necessarily have a VA to go to. What do they do?”

For many nonveterans, it can be daunting to seek help for their condition especially with a lack of clear resources available. Therefore, they turn to unhealthy alternatives such as self-harm and substance abuse. Left untreated, PTSD may develop into more severe medical problems and account for increase health costs compared to those who receive treatment.

Reviewing PTSD Resources

Benktcover and her team wanted to know what resources were available to civilian PTSD sufferers. They reviewed academic literature and consumer-oriented websites and discovered the little information was available. Although there was some information available, to non-veterans, there is little that doctors understand about nonveteran PTSD and specific access to treatment is needed.

Therefore the researchers came up with recommendations for improvements. PTSD is commonly diagnosed in treatment centers along with drug addiction. Often drug addicts do not even realize that they are suffering from PTSD symptoms due to trauma they have endured in their own life. These recommendations could be extremely useful in treating these clients.  These specific recommendations were:

  • Further research on treatment outcomes, access, and costs for nonveteran PTSD.
  • Instill measures to increase comparability and standard means of indexing and improve information discovery;
  • Pursue further research on victims of PTSD related to specific causes like violent crime or sexual abuse.
  • Establish measures and create a patient-centered institute to maintain resources on the best practices for treatment.

“We’d like to see a lot of program evaluation with empirical data about treatment efficacy and effectiveness and we’d like to see information on cost effectiveness,” Bentkover said.

Overall, the benefits of PTSD treatment for nonveterans would be the ability to increase awareness that PTSD can affect anyone and that treatment is crucial. In the long run, providing these resources could reduce health costs and increase well being.

If you have gone through a traumatic experience and feel that you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, seek help today before resulting in unhealthy solutions like drug addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

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