Post-traumatic stress, sadly, isn’t exclusive to young soldiers

Although their numbers are sadly and rapidly dwindling, veterans of World War II, the Korean War and even of the War in Vietnam are increasingly coming to realize they suffered and are still suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome.
“Who knew much about post-traumatic stress syndrome in 1945? The term didn’t enter the official manual of psychiatric diagnoses until 1980; effective treatments didn’t become widely available until the late 1990s.”

Age-standardised disability-adjusted life year...

Age-standardised disability-adjusted life year (DALY) rates from Post-traumatic stress disorder by country (per 100,000 inhabitants). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Soldiers were discharged at the end of World War II with the simple expectation that, in spite of what they had seen and done, what they had experienced, they would just resume the lives they had before service to and sacrifice for their country intervened.
The prevailing medical advice … amounted to ‘put it all behind you,’ ” Span wrote.
“The John Wayne approach,” the article quoted Joan Cook, a Yale psychiatry professor and researcher with the National Center for PTSD, as saying. “Older vets believed in that. For many years, they hid their symptoms.”
“Because post-traumatic stress syndrome can trouble veterans’ physical health, their emotional lives and their relationships — here is also a connection to dementia, researchers are finding — the Department of Veterans Affairs and veterans advocacy groups have made it their mission to inform service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan about their PTSD risk,” according to Span. “But older veterans tend to know less about the syndrome, even as it haunts many of them. Their generation had less experience with psychotherapy, which once carried a stigma. Even now, if they do seek help, they are likely to describe their problems as physical.”
“Because post-traumatic stress syndrome can trouble veterans’ physical health, their emotional lives and their relationships — here is also a connection to dementia, researchers are finding — the Department of Veterans Affairs and veterans advocacy groups have made it their mission to inform service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan about their PTSD risk,” according to Span. “But older veterans tend to know less about the syndrome, even as it haunts many of them. Their generation had less experience with psychotherapy, which once carried a stigma. Even now, if they do seek help, they are likely to describe their problems as physical.
“Aging itself can exacerbate the syndrome, as the sheer number of Vietnam-era vets streaming into Veterans Affairs centers for treatment in recent years seems to demonstrate. As those men (it is primarily men) experience illness, disability and bereavement, the sense of vulnerability and loss of control that arose in combat can re-emerge. Nursing homes — people in uniform, intercoms, semi-authoritarian routines and schedules — can trigger old fears.”
There is some good news on this sad front.
“Yet even veterans who have suffered quietly for decades can benefit from the contemporary treatments offered by the VA.,” the article stated.
“We can help them out,” said Dr. Steven Thorp, a research psychologist at VA San Diego Healthcare, mentioning such options as relaxation and stress reduction training, cognitive processing therapy and exposure therapy.

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