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PTSD – The Silent Killer of Veterans

June is PTSD awareness month. 300,000 of the 1.7 million American service members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD or major depression. 22 of these vets commit suicide every single day, 365 days a year. We’ve got your 6.

Here’s a brief overview of a veteran’s take on his PTSD

PTSD involves rocketing into extreme states of stress re-activity (in the form of terror, rage, and uncontrollable impulses). Also plunging into equally extreme states of being shut-down (exhaustion, emotional numbing, despair, and dissociation). From this vantage point, PTSD clearly is about much more than fear and anxiety. It involves the full range of emotions and undermining veterans’ health. As well as their ability to think clearly, to set and achieve goals, and to fully participate in and benefit from personal relationships. With PTSD there is a loss of self-regulation because the survival mechanism dominates how the veteran thinks, feels and behaves in every aspect of his or her life.

Veteran comforting another

From a veterans’ standpoint, it’s all about safety and survival. A military member is trained to think in ways that keep them and others safe and alive. They don’t see their behavior as strange, but merely acting exactly how they were trained. They are military, it’s who they are. Their military training is what kept them alive in war. As a military member, they had to be able to respond to threats with minimal time to make the choice. Quick thinking and fast action gets results and saves lives. The problem is, there is little need for such decisive action in the civilian world.

To the military PTSD sufferer, the problem is the spouse or friend or family member who cries, who pushes, who nags, who says they need help. As a member of the military there is a common mentality that needing help makes you weak. So the PTSD sufferer sees those who want to “help” as the problem and the cause for pushing them to their limit. Explosive anger, well, heck, they are military, and that is a perfectly acceptable emotion and reaction to have.

PTSD text

Here are a few things that might help you recognize PTSD in a veteran friend or family member:

  • PTSD sufferers often use video games or cell phone games and social media to escape and feel in control of something. They are trying to regain control. Don’t fight them on this as it will only make things worse. They don’t need a parental figure to them what to do or to punish them by taking the game away. Instead try playing a game with your PTSD sufferer. The point is find something, anything, to get involved with them, and get some communication going. Spending time together even over a video game helps rebuild trust.
  • Lack of intimacy normal due to being numb. Do you have any idea what it’s like to look at your family and not be able to feel anything? It’s not about the family, it’s about the PTSD sufferer trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Why they can’t feel normal emotions when they know they “should.”
  • Anger, yelling, swearing, and reacting before thinking (i.e overreacting or doing stupid things on impulse) The trauma that was endured has caused physical changes in the brain. The amygdala which controls flight or fight is now always on. As a result, the PTSD sufferer can go from 0-60 in a nanosecond. It is what kept them alive in war. Every situation is an emergency to a veteran suffering from PTSD. These men and women came back from a place where everyone wanted to kill them and those close to them and their friends were dying right in front of them. Their amygdala can’t tell the difference between Iraq or Afghanistan and home.
  • Spending money. Again most of PTSD sufferers have this problem. Due to lack of impulse control because of changes in their brain, tit is common for them to think: “What’s the point of saving for a future that may never come? Death is in us, we saw our buddies laughing and joking one minute and dead the next.”
  • Many veterans with PTSD can’t hold down jobs. They have trouble being out in public. The civilian world is not even in the same universe as the military world. In the military it’s your ass if something goes wrong and you didn’t follow procedure, because that is how people die!  The civilian world is not so big on dotting all the Is and crossing all the Ts….after all, no one dies if a report isn’t filed the right way.
  • PTSD sufferers are hyper vigilant and have a short startle response, often needing to be in a position to where they can survey everything around them. They have quick startle responses to sudden movement and noises and almost always stay on guard and sit or stand where they can see an entire room. This hypervigilance is trained into a military mind and it is used to keep them and others safe. Also, it’s not something they can just turn off now that they are no longer in danger

Our pledge from the Maxxx Nutrition Family:

We have pledged for the next 2 months to give 10 percent of all of our sales to the organization 22KILL. They work to raise awareness to the suicide epidemic that is plaguing our country, and educate the public on mental health issues such as PTSD. 22KILL also serves as a resource for veterans, and continues to build on its network of like-minded organizations to be able to connect veterans with programs and services in their local area. Funds raised through merchandise sales and donations are used to support partnered organizations who offer programs focusing on veteran empowerment, mental health treatment, and therapy/counseling for veterans and their families. To find out more visit https://www.22kill.com/

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