There is a high rate of mental health problems among war veterans after serving in the military. Approximately 20% of U.S. service members deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Serving in war and combat experiences can result in mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Additionally, they may suffer from sleep problems, anger, and addiction.
Here is a statistic that illustrates the severity of the issue.
Although veterans make up only 8% of the adult population in the United States, they accounted for 13.5% of suicides in 2017. And this trend does not appear to be slowing down.
Thus, veterans need to take their mental health seriously. It is best to address the problem as soon as possible to prevent further complications.
You can solve this problem by doing eight things listed in this article.
Finding Peace through Others' Support
To begin, let's examine how veterans can find peace with the support of others.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
A "safe and effective intervention" for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
The goal of this therapy is to help people recognize unhelpful negative thoughts and change them. CBT can be used to treat depression, anxiety, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health problems.
In most cases, therapists and life coaches can identify the cause of veterans' mental health problems and help them change their thinking patterns.
Helplines for veterans
Mental health treatment is available for U.S. war veterans through several official health services.
The Mesothelioma Veterans Center offers free 24/7 support by phone (855 761-9361) or online chat. Regardless of how trivial you think your issue might be, qualified VA responders will be waiting to assist you.
You can also seek treatment help for illnesses related to Gulf War service, Agent Orange exposure, asbestos exposure, and radiation exposure.
Family and friends support
Support and understanding from loved ones will help you heal, even if they are not officially trained to do so.
Don't bottle things up. Spend time with the people who matter most to you. It's important to let your loved ones know how you feel - but also to have fun and enjoy life.
Yes, it's okay to acknowledge that some experiences aren't appropriate to disclose immediately to loved ones. Know that it is normal if you don't see eye-to-eye with your family or friends. The process of reconnecting takes time.
Finding Peace in Activities
The following activities can offer some solace and improve your mental health.
When you meditate, you focus your attention on your body instead of your thoughts. It helps you be mindful of the present moment instead of focusing on the past or the future.
Anyone who suffers from PTSD, anxiety, or depression can benefit from learning to separate themselves from their thoughts.
Meditation may allow veterans with PTSD to observe flashbacks of their traumatic experiences without feeling them. As a result, they won’t be as affected by their thoughts emotionally and will feel more at peace.
Practicing yoga and relaxing your muscles
Many veterans affected by stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues, benefit from yoga because it is a meditative practice that promotes mindfulness.
Additionally, it soothes your body's physical symptoms of stress. Stress will cause your muscles to tense up, resulting in increased pain and stiffness.
Yoga stretches out your muscles and releases tension, thus making it a popular exercise routine for older Americans. Similar effects can be achieved with breathing and muscle relaxation exercises, like qigong- an ancient Chinese healing technique.
Creating a distraction
The use of distraction techniques can be helpful for veterans suffering from PTSD and anxiety.
Whenever anxious thoughts strike, you should do distraction activities right away. The activities could be as simple as counting backward, doodling, or cleaning. Using this technique can help you manage your negative emotions more effectively.
You can also distract yourself by playing video games. Video games are often misunderstood as making us more violent, though people react differently to different types of games. It is possible to de-stress by choosing relaxing games.
Keeping a journal
Keeping a journal can help people cope with stress, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The effect is to reduce tension or anger associated with unhelpful thoughts.
Veterans with PTSD can also find meaning and appreciation through writing. It is also termed posttraumatic growth.
Therapists and life coaches often suggest journaling between sessions. Having your therapist or another counselor view your journal notes gives them a better understanding of your thought patterns, allowing them to help you change your perspective.
Behavioral activation and self-monitoring
It is not uncommon for veterans with mental health conditions to feel apathetic. There may be a lack of motivation and energy to take action that will make them happier and improve their lives. Furthermore, they may feel powerless to change this situation.
They often feel worse because of this lack of action, making it a downward spiral. The only way to stop this cycle is by becoming more self-aware. Discover what triggers negative emotions or a lack of motivation in you, then take proactive steps to overcome them.
You can observe how your state of mind changes when you engage in positive and rewarding activities. Taking positive actions will help you feel positive and at peace with yourself.
Staying away from drugs and alcohol
Veterans often turn to alcohol or drugs to deal with mental health issues.
In the short term, this can help distract you from negative thoughts, but it's a terrible long-term solution. Rather than confronting these problems head-on and dealing with them, your paper over them.
When the high wears off, your mental health issues will remain. Eventually, you will need bigger doses to numb the pain if you keep drinking or using drugs to fix the problem. This process is at the heart of many addictions.
Despite how sad it may sound, PTSD and depression are common among veterans. Ignoring or feeling embarrassed about the prevalence of mental health problems won’t help you.
Remember, getting help does not indicate weakness. Rather, it is a strong move. And the solution is in your hands!
While the suggestions above might not seem as easy and quick as turning to a bottle, they're far more effective over time.
If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health issues, it is important to seek and help others seek professional help.