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Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

You may have heard of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 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 (PTS). 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 posttraumatic stress disorder (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 posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? When should you consider getting help from a health care professional? If you’re concerned about experiences you’ve been having, consider taking the self-assessment for PTSD.  It’s anonymous, and provides results, recommendations for next steps including self-help materials, and other resources.

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

 

Try a Self Assessment

Self Assessment for Post Traumatic Stress [0% complete]

Welcome to the Post-Truamatic Stress Assessment

Completing this questionnaire should take about five minutes. When you've completed the assessment, your results will be returned along with some resources you're sure to find helpful.

Because your privacy is of utmost importance, we do not collect any personal health information (PHI). For more information about the use of PHI and your personal privacy, please visit the Defense Privacy, Civil Liberties, and Transparency Division of the U.S. Department of Defense.

Important Note

While this tool can help you determine if you need additional help, only a health care professional can provide an accurate diagnosis.

Please check, "I Acknowledge" below to confirm that you have read and understand these statements as they have been presented to you.

Repeated, disturbing memories, thoughts, or images of a stressful military experience from the past?

Repeated, disturbing dreams of a stressful military experience from the past?

Suddenly acting or feeling as if a stressful military experience were happening again (as if you were reliving it)?

Feeling very upset when something reminded you of a stressful military experience from the past?

Having physical reactions (e.g., heart pounding, trouble breathing, or sweating) when something reminded you of a stressful military experience from the past?

Avoiding thinking about or talking about a stressful military experience from the past or avoid having feelings related to it?

Avoid activities or situations because they remind you of a stressful military experience from the past?

Trouble remembering important parts of a stressful military experience from the past?

Loss of interest in things that you used to enjoy?

Feeling distant or cut off from other people?

Feeling emotionally numb or being unable to have loving feelings for those close to you?

Feeling as if your future will somehow be cut short?

Trouble falling or staying asleep?

Feeling irritable or having angry outbursts?

Having difficulty concentrating?

Being "super alert" or watchful on guard?

Feeling jumpy or easily startled?

The result is incomplete

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Seizures among Active Component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007 – 2016

Infographic
1/25/2018
This retrospective study estimated the rates of seizures diagnosed among deployed and non-deployed service members to identify factors associated with seizures and determine if seizure rates differed in deployment settings. It also attempted to evaluate the associations between seizures, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by assessing correlations between the incidence rates of seizures and prior diagnoses of TBI and PTSD. Seizures have been defined as paroxysmal neurologic episodes caused by abnormal neuronal activity in the brain. Approximately one in 10 individuals will experience a seizure in their lifetime. Line graph 1: Annual crude incidence rates of seizures among non-deployed service members, active component, U.S. Armed Forces data •	A total of 16,257 seizure events of all types were identified among non-deployed service members during the 10-year surveillance period. •	The overall incidence rate was 12.9 seizures per 10,000 person-years (p-yrs.) •	There was a decrease in the rate of seizures diagnosed in the active component of the military during the 10-year period. Rates reached their lowest point in 2015 – 9.0 seizures per 10,000 p-yrs. •	Annual rates were markedly higher among service members with recent PTSD and TBI diagnoses, and among those with prior seizure diagnoses. Line graph 2: Annual crude incidence rates of seizures by traumatic brain injury (TBI) and recent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis among non-deployed active component service members, U.S. Armed Forces •	For service members who had received both TBI and PTSD diagnoses, seizure rates among the deployed and the non-deployed were two and three times the rates among those with only one of those diagnoses, respectively. •	Rates of seizures tended to be higher among service members who were: in the Army or Marine Corps, Female, African American, Younger than age 30, Veterans of no more than one previous deployment, and in the occupations of combat arms, armor, or healthcare Line graph 3: Annual crude incidence rates of seizures diagnosed among service members deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, or Operation New Dawn, U.S. Armed Forces, 2008 – 2016  •	A total of 814 cases of seizures were identified during deployment to operations in Iraq and Afghanistan during the 9-year surveillance period (2008 – 2016). •	For deployed service members, the overall incidence rate was 9.1 seizures per 10,000 p-yrs. •	Having either a TBI or recent PTSD diagnosis alone was associated with a 3-to 4-fold increase in the rate of seizures. •	Only 19 cases of seizures were diagnosed among deployed individuals with a recent PTSD diagnosis during the 9-year surveillance period. •	Overall incidence rates among deployed service members were highest for those in the Army, females, those younger than age 25, junior enlisted, and in healthcare occupations. Access the full report in the December 2017 MSMR (Vol. 24, No. 12). Go to www.Health.mil/MSMR

This infographic documents a retrospective study which estimated the rates of seizures diagnosed among deployed and non-deployed service members to identify factors associated with seizures and determine if seizure rates differed in deployment settings. The study also evaluated the associations between seizures, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by assessing correlations between the incidence rates of seizures and prior diagnoses of TBI and PTSD.

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