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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Iraq Veterans Essay

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a condition characterized by excessive fear, helplessness, or horror resulting from an experience of excessive trauma. Its symptoms include persistent relapse of the traumatic experience, avoidance of stimuli related to the trauma, lack of general responsiveness, and lingering symptoms of heightened autonomic arousal (Long, 1995).

The State of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder All these symptoms must manifest themselves for over a month, and the condition must bring about a clinically significant pain or impairment in social, occupational, or other important aspects of functioning (Long, 1995). According to a study conducted by the Pentagon, almost one out of ten American soldiers who went on a tour of duty in Iraq suffered post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) after seeing a dead comrade or taking part in combat. The findings of the study could trigger a budget battle in Congress over the health care of veterans (Strong, 2006).

The survey, which involved 222,620 Army and Marine soldiers coming home from Iraq, 16,318 from Afghanistan, and 64,967 from other places, revealed that over 1/3 of American soldiers received psychological counseling immediately after coming home from Iraq (Strong, 2006). Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the report revealed that nineteen percent of the returnees satisfied the “risk criteria for a mental health concern” of the military which is higher than the 11. 3% and 8. 5% of those who returned from Afghanistan and other deployments, respectively (Strong, 2006).

According to Dr. Charles Hoge, who co-authored the study and serving as a colonel at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, said that the findings of the research did not come as a surprise to them since the military is implementing a new mental health evaluation program for returning soldiers which encourages them to seek medical help early to avoid any serious complications in the future (Strong, 2006). Post-traumatic stress disorder was likewise experienced by soldiers who were deployed to Vietnam.

Administered in 1990, the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study conducted by The Research Triangle Institute contracted by the Veterans Affairs Administration, the research revealed that 31 percent of the soldiers deployed to Vietnam which translates to 1 million troops experienced PTSD after their return (Satel, 2004). Psychiatric reports attached to the study showed that 12 to 15 out of every 1000 soldiers succumbed to psychiatric disorder. If the 1990 research is accurate, the number of Vietnam War veterans who suffered from PTSD increased vastly in post-war era (Satel, 2004).

In the Pentagon study, 80 percent of those who was diagnosed with PTSD said that they saw their comrades getting killed or wounded or took part in combat and shot their weapon. Among those who did not experience PTSD, half participated in combat and experienced violence (Strong, 2006). The Effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder According to Judith Broder (2008), psychiatrist and founder of the Soldiers Project, a volunteer organization geared towards treating war veterans for free, the excessive trauma as well as the fear of getting almost killed are common signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

It is quite understandable as soldiers are sent to unfamiliar territory and will always find themselves in a dangerous situation and tends to be cautious all the time. For most soldiers who are deployed in Iraq making the transition to a peaceful life after months or years of being in action can be challenging (Terzyan, 2008). The reason for the growth in post-traumatic stress disorder is not only because troops have now become more aware of the condition but also due to the extended separation from their families and secured conditions.

Likewise, troops are prone to PTSD because the nature of their job demands their being exposed to life-threatening and stressful conditions (Terzyan, 2008). Treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Contrary to what many people think, treating post-traumatic stress disorder in war veterans can be quite complicated. There is evidence that proves that taking any kind of medication is not as effective in war veterans as it is in ordinary citizens, and there is minimal research on antidepressants for combat troops (Spollen & Labbate, 2008).

A small study used fluoxetine in treating post-traumatic stress disorder in war veterans. The findings showed minimal improvements in veterans than civilians. A similar study this time using sertraline yielded the same result (Spollen & Labbate, 2008). Psychological and social intervention may be the first choice when it comes to veterans with PTSD. In some instances, they are more valuable interventions than medication. Building trust between patient and provider is the initial step in the conduction of treatment.

However, establishing such connection can be difficult with patients who has suffered traumatic stress (Reeves, 2007). Treating Iraq veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder poses a real challenge to primary care providers. For many patients, an early alternative would be to visit a Veterans Affair (VA) medical facility. The United States Department of Veteran Affairs has trained physicians in the field of PTSD and Iraqi veterans coming home are qualified for treatment (Reeves, 2007). Conclusion

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition characterized by excessive fear, helplessness, or horror resulting from an experience of excessive trauma. Its symptoms include persistent relapse of the traumatic experience, avoidance of stimuli related to the trauma, lack of general responsiveness, and lingering symptoms of heightened autonomic arousal. According to a study conducted by the Pentagon, almost one out of ten American soldiers who went on a tour of duty in Iraq suffered post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) after seeing a dead comrade or taking part in combat.

The findings of the study could trigger a budget battle in Congress over the health care of veterans. The reason for the growth in post-traumatic stress disorder is not only because troops have now become more aware of the condition but also due to the extended separation from their families and secured conditions. Likewise, troops are prone to PTSD because the nature of their job demands their being exposed to life-threatening and stressful conditions. Contrary to what many people think, treating post-traumatic stress disorder in war veterans can be quite complicated.

There is evidence that proves that taking any kind of medication is not as effective in war veterans as it is in ordinary citizens, and there is minimal research on antidepressants for combat troops. Psychological and social intervention may be the first choice when it comes to veterans with PTSD. In some instances, they are more valuable interventions than medication. Building trust between patient and provider is the initial step in the conduction of treatment. However, establishing such connection can be difficult with patients who has suffered traumatic stress.


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