Combat Related PTSD- Five surprising Facts
According to Harry Croft, MD in his “Understanding Combat PTSD” blog on Healthy Place: America’s Mental Health channel, combat related PTSD is experienced by men and women who have been in combat, but can also happen to those that have experienced live fire to those who are support workers in a war zone area. Read more
They often experience
- An inability to remember part of the traumatic event
- Persistent and exaggerated negative belief about oneself and others
- Persistent negative emotional state
- Feelings of detachment from others
These are the milder symptoms. I saw combat in Vietnam and I am grateful today that there is more effort to acknowledge the existence of post traumatic stress disorder and to help those afflicted by it. Here are eight surprising facts that you may not know about combat related PTSD:
1.Combat related PTSD was widely under reported in Vietnam. Incidence in the Vietnam war was initially believed to be 0.1% compared with 20% in World War II and more than 30% in the Middle East conflicts.
2. At the peak of the Vietnam War when there were 543,00 troops, there were only 20 psychiatrists in theater.
Dr. Norman Camp, MD has written about the challenges faced by the psychiatric community in a war that was ill prepared to face the psychiatric needs of soldiers. According to his book: “the US Army suffered a severe breakdown in soldier morale and discipline in Vietnam — matters that are not only at the heart of military leadership, but also ones that overlap with the mission of Army psychiatry. The psychosocial strain on deployed soldiers and their leaders in Vietnam, especially during the second half of the war, produced a wide array of individual and group symptoms that thoroughly tested Army psychiatrists and mental health colleagues there.”
3.In the 1970’s, 80’ and 90’s, PTSD was frequently misdiagnosed as schizophrenia, alcoholism, drug abuse or personality disorder.
I know this personally as I was misdiagnosed as schizophrenic. I was crazy and definitely delusional. But I certainly was not born that way. I was a good candidate that the stress of combat would lead to a breakdown.
4. Thorazine, an anti-psychotic medicine, was freely dispensed by medical technicians in Vietnam to suppress symptoms that are now clearly recognized as PTSD.
The drug was used in situations that they described as combat exhaustion which had as its symptoms soldiers experiencing states of psychosis or near psychosis such that it eliminated their combat effectiveness.Read more Thorazine was intended to induce sleep so the soldier could return to combat after rest.
I was given Thorazine, which for me made matters worse. It was only when a sensitive therapist shared her own psychotic experiences that I was able to start the road to healing.
5. As early as 1975 it was predicted that numbing with alcohol and drugs would lead to delayed emergence of PTSD symptoms.
There are so many returning veterans and those who have been living with the symptoms of PTSD who have held them at bay for as long as they could with drug abuse and alcohol. They can also find other ways of soothing the terror and flashbacks that prevent successful relationships and can lead to suicide or self-destruction.
In this video Dr. Harry Croft explains the symptoms of PTSD in a very clear fashion.
In my book, “CRAZY ME…How I Lost Reality and Found Myself,” I was finally able to share my story of having PTSD, being misdiagnosed as schizophrenic and finally how I clawed my way back to reality and mental health. I am sharing it now because I want to help other vets like myself who are confused about what they are experiencing and to send out a life preserver so you can come back to yourself.