Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop after experiencing events that create fear, helplessness or horror, such as a threat to life or physical integrity. Seeing another person in a life-threatening situation can also trigger PTSD.
As troops continue to return from Iraq and Afghanistan, an increasing number of service members are experiencing symptoms of PTSD. The March 1, 2006, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association reported 35 percent of war veterans accessed mental health care in the first year after returning home.
Combat situations are not the only cause of trauma. Motor vehicle accidents, people’s experience during natural disasters and other traumatic situations can also lead to PTSD. Not everyone exposed to these types of trauma develops PTSD; however, those who do may re-experience the traumatic event as disturbing recollections, images, thoughts, dreams, dissociate flashbacks, or intense reactions to situations that resemble an aspect of the traumatic event. Other less specific symptoms may also be present, such as increased arousal and startle response, difficulty sleeping, irritability, and poor concentration. Many times there is guilt, coexisting depression and panic disorder. Marital problems, and alcohol and chemical dependencies can also result from PTSD.
Getting help for PTSD
Active duty service members must always get a referral from their primary care manager for treatment of PTSD. All other beneficiaries, such as active duty family members, retirees and their family members can obtain care through their outpatient mental health benefit and other mental health services. Be sure to check out the mental health approval requirements on the Prior Authorization, Referral and Benefit Tool when seeking mental health care.
Patients diagnosed with PTSD are eligible for outpatient services such as individual or group psychotherapy, crisis intervention, collateral visits and family therapy. Other benefits may include psychological testing, medication management, substance abuse treatment, and more.
Learn more online
The following websites focus primarily on national services, however, many provide links to local community services.