Not all Wounds are Visible: Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress

Imagine living under the threat of the most horrific situation you’ve ever experienced in your life popping up in your brain at any given moment. This is the reality of someone living with post-traumatic stress (PTS), a mental health condition that affects many of our returning Service Members and Military Veterans. While stigma surrounding depression and anxiety has lessened in recent years, post-traumatic stress (PTS) is still surrounded by many myths and stigmas that not only keep people unable to access treatment but also fearful of sharing their experiences with others.

For our Service Members, Veterans and Military Family community, Home Base recognizes the added critical additional stressors of this particular lifestyle, such as acute trauma, sustained deployment-related threat, repeated prolonged deployments, and traumatic brain injuries may increase the chance that someone will develop PTS.

And the statistics stand true. According to the National Center for PTSD, the number of Veterans with PTS varies by service era:

  • Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF): About 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans (or between 11-20%) who served in OIF or OEF have PTS in a given year.
  • Gulf War (Desert Storm): About 12 out of every 100 Gulf War Veterans (or 12%) have PTS in a given year.
  • Vietnam War: About 15 out of every 100 Vietnam Veterans (or 15%) were currently diagnosed with PTS at the time of the most recent study in the late 1980s, the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS). It is estimated that about 30 out of every 100 (or 30%) of Vietnam Veterans have had PTD in their lifetime.

It’s normal to have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping after a traumatic event. At first, it may be hard to do normal daily activities, like go to work, go to school, or spend time with people you care about.

Symptoms may vary per person, but several features are generally present. Some of the symptoms that may be present include:

  • A sense of feeling emotionally numb, even around loved ones
  • Needing to avoid certain places, activities or people that may bring the trauma to mind
  • A continued re-experiencing of the event as flashbacks or nightmares, difficult memories or intrusive images
  • A sense of needing to be extra alert or vigilant
  • Reacting with an exaggerated startle response
  • Outbursts of irritability or edginess
  • Feeling anxious or worried

Home Base can help you face what you’ve been through and provide well-rounded support and care for you and your family. Our seasoned team of clinicians and social workers collaborate with you to develop a highly tailored treatment plan, with the goal of helping to ease or overcome symptoms to enjoy a better quality of life. Some treatment options include the following:

  • Family and couples counseling
  • Individual talk therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Perr Support Groups
  • Integrative Therapies such as Yoga, Art & Tai Chi
  • Social Activities
  • Stress Reduction and Resilience

Through Home Base, you will:

  • Explore your thoughts and feelings about what you’ve been through
  • Learn how to cope with and control your memories and thoughts
  • Address the challenges PTS has caused in your personal and professional life
  • Meet other Veterans who have been through similar experiences
  • Find support from fellow Veterans and dedicated healthcare professionals
  • Engage in wellness interventions aimed at building mental resiliency

If you are a family member of a Veteran or Service Member who may be experiencing symptoms of PTS, there are many things you can do, to include finding support and care through Home Base’s Family Program. At Home Base, we view family broadly. To us, “family” encompasses spouses, partners, parents, siblings, and children, but also anyone who the Veteran considers a member of their support network, including close friends. We believe that when one family member serves, the entire family serves, and to that end, we use a 3-generation model of care.  Pioneered by Home Base, the 3-generation model allows us to treat the parents of Veterans (generation one) the spouse/partners/siblings of a Veteran (generation two) and the Veteran’s children (generation three).

Home Base offers clinical care in our regional Outpatient Clinic,  peer-to-peer support groups, wellness programs for family members and educational sessions to help family members understand what their loved one is going through. The more you know, the better you and your family can handle the diagnosis.

The most important thing to know about PTS is that no one needs to suffer alone. Getting help increases the likelihood of recovery and Home Base can help you and your loved ones face what you’ve been through.

To make an appointment with Home Base, or to learn more about services available to you and your family, call (617) 724-5202 or email us via our Connect to Care form here.