We will remember them

On Remembrance Day the nation comes together to commemorate the contribution of servicemen and women who have given their lives to the peace and freedom of our country.

Throughout the UK, ceremonies are held to mark the lives of those we have lost, but also for those affected by war.

Many war veterans experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after they return from service.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that arises as a delayed and drawn-out response after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event, such as military combat, violent crime, sexual assault, or a natural disaster.

Some PTSD sufferers involuntarily re-experience aspects of a traumatic event in a distressing and vivid way. This can include flashbacks, nightmares, instructive images and other sensory impressions.

Chartered Psychologist Dr Roderick Orner believes that Remembrance Day is a great way to raise the awareness of this disorder:

“As society sends soldiers to war, we owe it to our veterans to show our gratitude. This day reminds us all of the health and psychological consequences that some veterans go through.”

Early intervention is essential for the treatment of PTSD. Without effective treatment sufferers may develop chronic problems over the years.

Dr Orner suggests that many sufferers become socially withdrawn and seek distraction by becoming reckless and indulging in recreational activities.

A person’s reaction to PTSD varies from one sufferer to another and corresponds with the actual events of their trauma.

One way that psychologists treat PTSD is re-exposure to the feared situation. Dr Orner says:

“This treatment can effectively help PTSD sufferers by drawing them back to the memories that they have of a trauma and trying to evoke change within their feelings.”

PTSD doesn’t only affect veterans, but can have an impact on their families. Dr Orner suggests that there needs to be more of an emphasis on psycho-education in order for families to have a better understanding of the disorder and the adjustments that sufferers will go through.

One way that families can be helped is to join support networks and encourage veterans to keep in touch with military bases or regiments.

For more information on PTSD and treatment guidelines, go to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) website.