The number of veterans diagnosed with PTSD has skyrocketed over the years. Given the nature of their work, it’s no wonder that the number is not higher. Whether you are a veteran looking for help, or a loved one is a veteran in need of assistance, we are going to provide some ideas on different therapies to help you get the relief you need.
Inquire on Benefits Available
It’s important to know what you can do with your benefits in pursuit of treatment for your PTSD. First thing to do is to check with your local VA and apply for special disability benefits for veterans. The severity of your disorder, in short, will determine how much in benefits you can get. Additionally, if the disorder is severe enough you can try applying for Social Security Disability.
Counseling & Medication
Transitioning from military life to civilian life can be very difficult. Throw in a diagnosis of PTSD and it’s twice as hard. Because of the difficult nature of transitioning while anxious, we encourage utilizing counseling as a part of coping with your issues. Sometimes medication, such as Zoloft or Paxil, are prescribed so that you can cope with your feelings. Don’t ever feel like you are less than a person for using medication to cope. You have a real need and you are more human for taking good care of your mental health!
A popular treatment for veterans with PTSD are the use of therapy dogs. Many of the dogs are trained to help guide their handler out of stressful situations that they are trained to identify as triggers. At the same time, they are often useful at helping their handler in some miniscule ways that have a large impact on their symptoms. A few of those are:
· Lowering blood pressure
· Calm their handler
· Providing companionship
· Protect their handler from crowds or people rushing them
If you love animals, it’s highly recommended to see if you qualify for a therapy dog.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy
Prolonged Exposure Therapy puts the veteran in the position of re-telling what happened during her/his military life. This is one of the more difficult therapies but the idea behind it is that if you tell your story over and over, it’s less likely to creep up on you without notice. The therapist typically assists the veteran with breathing techniques during the sharing of information. The sessions move at the pace that is comfortable for the veteran and allows him/her to control the progression. Many vets report that it helps them grow stronger over time.
Cognitive Processing Therapy
Cognitive Processing Therapy is very different than Prolonged Exposure. In Cognitive therapy, the vets gather in a group setting and write an impact statement in regards to how their lives are still in the throes of “war”. The focus is to work through negative emotions and guilt so they can focus on the future and build a fulfilling life for themselves. A big positive for this group therapy is that the veterans can gather, bond, and re-create their “military comraderie” that they are familiar and comfortable with.
PTSD can leave someone feeling debilitated and useless. Our veterans fight so hard for a country that they love, it’s a major disservice to them to not support them in their time of need. These therapies are just a few options that are available. Do take the time and work with what helps. You and your loved ones deserve it!