The psychological status of any individual is an important determinant of the general health. The brain forms a critical part of the nervous system that coordinates all the nervous system resulting in the sustenance of life. Therefore, traumatizing experiences have a gross effect of destabilizing the normal functioning of the entire body systems since it reduces the efficiency of the brain to receive impulses and coordinating responses. Various risk factors predispose people to trauma. These include exposure to horrific occurrences during military activity, being a victim of sexual assault such as rape, early childhood victimization, social challenges such as the demise of a loved one and myriads of other factors that affect the normal mental orientation of a person. This paper provides a case of traumatic experiences of the US combatants returning from an operation in Afghanistan. It further provides an integrated approach that involves the victims participation and professional support in overcoming trauma.
The effects of war, the memory of the sights of dead and wounded colleagues, working in hostile environments and being away from the family negatively affect the mental orientation of US soldiers coming back from hot pursuits in Afghanistan. They suffer from trauma and post-traumatic stress disorders (MacManus et al., 2013). The paper finally prescribes a psychological intervention that takes into account the need for ethical considerations in dealing with patients suffering from depression, trauma, and its related conditions.
The Traumatic Crisis among the Returnee Veterans
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is associated with life threatening events such as military operations, devastating natural calamities, and incidents of terrorist attacks, horrible accidents, or violent assaults. Among the US ex-combatants or soldiers returning from military operations in war areas such as Afghanistan, the condition is more prominent. The returning veterans either undergo traumatizing episodes immediately or long after their return from the milliray operations. It 's hard for the soldiers to understand their mental change but it manifests in multiple ways (Sebastian, 2009). The symptoms fall into four broad categories including the recurrent, intrusive reminders of the traumatizing event; extreme avoidance of factors that remind them of the event; adverse moods and thought changes; and being irritated.
The recurrent and intrusive reminders present themselves in the form of nightmares, dreary flashbacks and distressing thoughts. These occurrences are often characterized by extreme reactions such as panics, increased berating, and irresistible shaking. Furthermore, the people extremely avoid things related to the factors that remind them of the specific traumatic events (Sebastian, 2009). Some of these reminders include places, people, thoughts and situation that are associated with bad memories. This situation results in their withdrawal from family members and friends due to the fear that they unknowingly or intentionally invoke their traumatizing thoughts.
The soldiers also experience adverse changes in their thoughts and moods. Their ideas about the world and themselves become extremely exaggerated. This experience is occasioned by the recurrent feelings of fright, guilt, and shame. These factors reduce the possibility of the soldiers to experience any sense of positive emotions (Busuttil, 2010). The soldiers are also irritant. They tend to be sensitive to the slightest perturbations leading to the wrongful use of guns or brutal responses even to most insignificant things. They become reckless and angry at virtually everything. Sometimes, in extreme conditions, the militants suffering from trauma decide to commit suicide.
Intervention Plan for Ex-Military Officers who have PTSD and Other Trauma-Related Problems
This paper recommends a seven-point response plan for the combatants returning from operations and suffering from trauma.
Step 1: Self-regulation; the soldiers should burn off the adrenaline through regular exercise. This training results in mood improvements and improves the functioning of the nervous system (Busuttil, 2010). Engaging in the outdoor activities such as hiking and mountain climbing reduces the sense of vulnerability and restores the ex-soldiers to a civilian lifestyle.
Step 2: Self-Regulation of the Nervous System
Post-traumatic stress disorders result in a feeling of helplessness and vulnerability hence the need to initiate a self-control over ones body. The recommended tips for restoring calmness and nervous stability include mindful breathing and emotional reconnection.
Step 3: Establish a Social Network with Other Members of the Society
The need to reconnect with other members of the community is important for the veterans, but this does not necessarily imply talking too much with people. It means having a confidant who the patient can speak to and be sure that he or she listens without undue judgment of their conditions (Dass-Brailsford, 2007). The person can be a close friend or a family member with whom the soldier has a lot of trusts. The combatant can also re-enter the community through volunteering and join existing PTSD support groups. It is easier for the victims of trauma to cope up and recover from their frustrating situations if they become members of social support groups consisting of other veterans having similar challenges.
Step 4: protect the body
The combat zones often incline soldiers to persistent adrenaline rush thus predisposing them to the use of drugs after they return from war. It is important for them to take care of their body as a means of overcoming the resultant stress (Dass-Brailsford, P. (2007). These healthy life practices include relaxation (massage or yoga), avoiding the intake of drugs, eating a healthy diet. The inclusion of meals consisting of high amounts of Omga-3 such as fatty fish improves emotional health.
Step 5: Control the Flashbacks, Nightmares and Negative Thoughts
Among the victims of trauma, flashbacks often present as visual or auditory memories of the combat. It is important that they state and reinforce the mentality that the crisis is not occurring in the present (Dass-Brailsford, 2007). Some of the important tips for overcoming negative flashbacks is moving around and using all the senses to perceive things that are in the present such as small, sounds and taste
Step 6: Try Overcoming the Survivor's Guilt
The feeling of guilt is a common thing among the veterans undergoing the challenge of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. For instance, the sight of injured colleagues, escape from danger or dead friends make the soldiers incredibly guilty of their presence. To overcome the survivors guilt, which comes in the form of worries such as, why did I survive, I should not have returned alive and blaming oneself for the plight of the dead colleagues requires healing (MacManus et al., 2013). The challenge of self-blame and accusations is best overcome through an honest or genuine assessment of personal liability for the things that occurred. Instead of self-punishment, the soldier should try to honor the fallen colleagues and uphold their sustained struggles to win the war.
Step 7: Get Professional Treatment
There are many available professional treatments for PTSD, which are essential in dealing with the challenges of trauma. These include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and medical treatments (Dass-Brailsford, 2007). CBT exposes the soldier to reminders of the traumatizing event while at the same time substituting them with a balanced reality. The medications include the use of drugs such as antidepressants which suppress the emotional variations thus helping one reduces worries and sadness.
Important ethical considerations in managing crisis of trauma among the Ex-Veterans
The fact that victims of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and associated mental distress are highly sensitive implies the need to ensure the adherence to ethical standards during the intervention. During counseling, the professional should not grill the victims but instead provide a suitable environment for the traumatizing story to come out naturally (Levers, 2012). Additionally, there is a need for an informed consent of the patient that results in their active participation in the entire process. For instance, the seven-point crisis intervention above expressly requires the informed involvement of the victim himself. In this context, informed context involves providing the comprehensive client information about their crisis and explaining the essence of the proposed treatment.
The express consent of the victim is based on the available evidence such as the expression of PTSD symptoms. Through harnessing the clients voluntary involvement in the recovery process, they gain a renewed view of the world and their place within it. The new perception is an integration of the trauma itself and life coping mechanism for the effects of trauma. At the end of the crisis intervention, the dignity of the patient should be preserved, his resilience to the possibility of re-traumatization boosted, and they gain an improved perception of the world.
Busuttil, W. (2010). Combat-related stress. Promoting men's mental health. Oxford: Ratcliffe, 125-41.
Dass-Brailsford, P. (2007). A practical approach to trauma: Empowering interventions. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage.
Levers, L. L. (2012). Trauma Counseling: Theories and interventions. New York: Springer Pub.
MacManus, D., Dean, K., Jones, M., Rona, R. J., Greenberg, N., Hull, L. & Fear, N. T. (2013). Violent offending by UK military personnel deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan: a data linkage cohort study. The Lancet, 381(9870), 907-917.
Sebastian S. (2009). A Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Ethical Update. Professional Issues. 37(1) 36.
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