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Shell Shock

PTSD in soldiers and what it feels
like to live with on a daily basis!

Shell Shock Article from Open CollegeWhat is post traumatic stress disorder and shell shock in soldiers?

For anyone thinking of becoming a soldier, a trainee or cadet in the army of your country, then you will need to know the following could happen to you.

If you are to become a serving soldier the chances are high that you will fight in a war torn country in battle on the front line.

What the Army won’t tell you or prepare you for is the possibility that you may as a result of that war become mentally ill or mentally disturbed many months or years later.

You may already know that there is a possibility that you or others could be affected by the effects of fighting in a war and you probably have reflected upon death or what that might be like to take a life or have your own taken and so on.

Some soldiers may relish the idea of killing the enemy whilst others may just accept that if it’s going to happen then it happens.

There are many soldiers who will go through war and never be affected but most are in one form or another at risk of a high percentage of becoming seriously affected by what they experience as a result of killing the enemy or seeing their colleagues killed next to them which can involve gore including dismemberment and explosions around human life involving graphic visual imagery which will never go away.

Most soldiers will cope and adjust to the horrors of war but many will not, then out of nowhere psychological and emotional disturbances or symptoms will appear and when they appear, they can escalate into further symptoms of mental disorder of the worst kind.

Ask any serving or x time served soldier and they will tell you directly from personal experience or about a soldier they know who was seriously mentally affected by the horrors of war.

Ask any soldier if they know any soldier that became mentally disturbed or ill and they will tell you yes, they know soldiers who committed suicide or become alcoholics and drug addicts or ended up in prison or on medication and had nervous breakdowns and now receive treatment from psychiatrists as the common everyday GPs medication/prescriptions such as valium are not strong enough to settle or sedate the chaos which can arise within a soldiers mind who becomes ill.

Soldiers who become ill often develop an array of symptoms normally categorised under the term of shell shock or PTSD better known as posttraumatic stress disorder or in its older term previously known as shellshock.

Posttraumatic stress disorder is a sickness or condition of constant, persistent and reoccurring ongoing psychological disturbance or repetitive aftershock which can affect every part of waking life, in both mind and body.

Typically and generally speaking, someone who is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder will feel a mixture of symptoms or reactions from morning till night, seven days a week and these experiences, symptoms or reactions come and go and alternate from one to the another and include feelings of fear or put simply, feeling frightened for what appears to be apparently no reason but just feeling frightened, anxiousness and anxiety.

This is just the tip of the iceberg and often felt when alone and in a safe environment such as in the comfort of your own home. However, things escalate once the sufferer steps outside into the outside world especially in social scenarios or situations and this anxiousness increases into a heightened state of vigilance and observing what people are doing around them, who is approaching, what their intentions are, what they possibly could do.

An overall sense of danger, persecution, threat, fear and a high sense of paranoia, looking at people’s movements, body language, tone of voice, intentions, agendas, ulterior motives and especially eye contact. Just a simple look from a complete stranger can be seen as a look of intent to cause intimidation, humiliation, mental, physical harm or threat.

Soldiers who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder who enter back into civilian life often report a sense of heightened awareness around them that someone could harm them.

People who are suffering from PTSD who actually socialise and drink alcohol can quite easily get involved in confrontations, arguments and physical punch ups, violence and then the consequences of the law.

These are just a few of the symptoms that come and go throughout every single day and unless treated can lead to severe depression and in some cases suicide.

Additionally the central area or theme revolves around the memories that the mind locks onto which would be the battleground, the experiences of seeing or experiencing harm to one’s self or others including injuries and the suffering of the enemy and to other fellow soldier sufferings.

The feelings can be a constant stomach turning anxiety and persecution and a nonstop recalling of events which are specific and unique to the sufferer over and over without any peace or resolve.

What starts off as a tiny little effect can grow and escalate into full blown severe psychological trauma in a matter of weeks and months and in most cases these symptoms are so chronic and severe they cannot be tolerated and will result in either medication and psychological intervention or therapy in one form or another or escapism through drugs or alcohol.

Each individual personality is unique and each person will deal with or suffer in a unique way.

For example, someone who is very proud and has a big ego may not want to admit that they feel free fear and overcompensate with anger or aggression which can lead to domestic violence and control of loved ones or public violence and prison.

Ask any soldier who suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and they will tell you hyper vigilance, fear and anxiety along with paranoia will be at the top their list as common place.

When you join the army they will not tell you that this could happen to you, obviously because they don’t know, it’s down to each individual and how each individual reacts.

Two soldiers can experience exactly the same experiences from start to finish but only one will go on to develop sickness or illness and that may vary wildly associated to their own psychological structure and make up which again is unique to them and how they do or do not react to certain events based on several factors including what is already stored up and life experienced in their own head!

Any event that is harm related which involves suffering or pain and threatens your life or others can trigger off the symptoms which are why a war torn fighting environment produces many sufferers of post traumatic stress disorder which can leave the sufferer feeling constantly threatened and unsafe, detached and at times powerless or helpless.

Post traumatic stress disorder can happen to anyone, you don’t have to be a soldier. Any traumatic or shock experience can trigger off the symptoms but is very high in soldiers due to what they can experience.

Those who develop PTSD such as soldiers or anyone who personally experiences or witnesses any form of traumatic events or catastrophe which can include accidents, manmade or natural disasters and those who are in or around situations such as police officers in an emergency and medical workers can be affected.

Post traumatic stress disorder is unique to each individual. No two sufferers will be the same although they will have similar or overlapping symptoms as outlined above.

The appearance of symptoms can appear days, weeks or months later and in some cases years before they appear or develop and they are usually triggered off by one last associated event which is often an indicator that the person does need the symptoms, from an unconscious/self protection point of view at least.

Any traumatic event which leads a person to feel helpless or uncontrolled, traumatised or shocked and can include war, manmade or natural events such as disasters, collisions or accidents, physical or violent attacks or assaults, sudden or unexpected death of close family members such as children, husbands and wives and so on.

Generally speaking, the difference between normal traumatic and upsetting events and those events that actually lead to PTSD are overwhelming, terrorising, terrifying and uncontrollable.

To put it simply, events of a severe nature, which renders the sufferer completely vulnerable and at the mercy of that situation with a total loss in the sense of safety and security which has been completely lost.

To some extent the sufferer of PTSD remains in a constant state of aftershock for want of description and this can include the retaining of events and effects in both mind and body.

The many treatments available for PTSD include psychiatric medication, cognitive behavioural therapy, EMDR, psychotherapy and curative hypnotherapy.

One of the most effective treatments available is curative hypnotherapy followed by EMDR and CBT in that order then the dreaded mediation route as a last resort if all else fails and in some all else will fail.

If you or a family member are suffering from PTSD and are looking for treatments we strongly advise you contact a curative hypnotherapist or qualified EMDR or cognitive behavioural therapist who specifically has background training and experience with PTSD.

If it is at all possible try to avoid taking the medication route and aim for psychological and psychotherapeutic intervention.

Medication is considered helpful and certainly only temporary. Medication such as valium or similar mind altering powerful psychiatric medications and pharmaceutical products serve only one purpose and that is to numb or deaden the symptoms.

In other words medication will temporarily suppress the symptoms and as always, any attempt at suppressing any symptoms will result in those symptoms returning faster and harder later.

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