Skip to main content

Military Health System

Clear Your Browser Cache

This website has recently undergone changes. Users finding unexpected concerns may care to clear their browser's cache to ensure a seamless experience.

Cpl. Anthony Gray practices yoga with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 1, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, on Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan, April 13, 2018. Over 100 Marines and Sailors with MWHS-1 participated in this event in order to build camaraderie and unit cohesion. Gray, from Muscatine, Iowa, is an intelligence specialist with MWHS-1. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Alexia Lythos)
Skip subpage navigation

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

You may have heard of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder on the news or from friends and family, and wondered what it is, or whether you or someone you know has it.

After a trauma or life-threatening event – such as an experience in combat – it is common to have reactions such as upsetting memories of the event, increased jumpiness, or trouble sleeping. These responses are often referred to as post-traumatic stress. For many people, these responses diminish with time, but for others they may continue causing problems with daily life and develop into a chronic psychological condition called PTSD.

There are four types of symptoms of PTSD:

  1. Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms). Service Members who have experienced a stressful or traumatic event often “re-experience” those events in their mind. This occurs when your mind tries to rationalize the event, which could also cause upsetting thoughts or dreams. Reminders of these events can be initiated by people, places, sounds or even smells. These reminders are called “triggers.”
  2. Avoiding situations that remind you of the event. Avoiding these triggers all-together is a natural way to lessen the memories. You might feel the need to sacrifice a normal life style, like watching the news or going out in large crowds, just to avoid thoughts, feelings or sensations that could be associated with the traumatic event.
  3. Having more negative beliefs and feelings. Changes in thoughts and mood may occur or worsen following a traumatic event.  You may blame yourself or feel guilty for having these thoughts.  You may detach yourself from others or lose interest in doing activities.  Like avoidance, negative thoughts and moods can worsen if they are not actively challenged and countered.
  4. Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal). You may feel a high level of physical tension and alertness all the time, which is sometimes called a “hyper-arousal reaction.”  When a serious life- threatening event occurs, humans are hard-wired to be “on-guard” until the threat is over.  You may have trouble falling or staying asleep, feel irritable or angry, have trouble concentrating, or feel like you are always on guard.  If the threat is prolonged, like during deployment, it can be hard for service members to return to a calm state when they return home.  Practice some simple techniques or utilize some simple tools to help your body return to a normal, less tense state.  Sometimes hyper-arousal reactions include impulsive or self-destructive behaviors.  When these behaviors occur, it’s important to seek out help.

How do you know if you have PTSD? When should you consider getting help from a health care professional?

For more questions or answers about PTSD, please visit the VA National Center for PTSD website.

You also may be interested in...

Publication
Sep 29, 2023

TBICoE Research Review: Mild TBI and PTSD

.PDF | 435.28 KB

This research review provides an in-depth summary of the available clinical research on the topic of co-morbid mild traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder. Specifically, this review will address symptoms, anatomy, diagnosis, and treatment of mild TBI, PTSD, and the unique circumstances associated with the presentation of both.

Publication
Sep 29, 2023

Mild TBI and PTSD Clinical Pearls

.PDF | 924.82 KB

TBICoE's "Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Clinical Pearls," is a new supplemental product to the detailed research review. This resource is designed to be brief and provide key actionable “clinical pearls” that should be considered in the treatment of service members with comorbid mild TBI and PTSD.

Last Updated: February 16, 2024
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on X Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery