As our troops transition back once again and hopefully a final time from the “War on Terror,” many are automatically being prescribed antidepressants and other prescriptions that are now being linked as a potential cause to increased suicide rates and attempts. While the inevitable depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and insomnia are already common issues troops and their families are dealing with upon returning from deployments, the increase in domestic violence and self destruction is fast becoming common instances also.
The greatest common denominator’s seems to be multiple prescriptions provided to soldiers for anxiety and depression, increase in recreational drugs, and consumption of alcohol. Some common side effects of many mood altering prescriptions already include decrease in sexual libido and mood swings which alone are enough to pose challenges in a family that has already managed without the soldier, while simultaneously worrying if they will make it home alive. Then to be faced with the reality that although they have physically returned, things are not back to normal. This is very stressful on the entire family and even more on the soldier.
Many times the most unsung heroes are the spouse and children that remain strong and courageous at home proud of their soldier and trying to make the soldier proud by holding down the fort at home. Many are unaware of the emotional challenges that ensue upon the troops return. Children and spouses not only must readapt to having the absent parent back into the home and included in all family activities, but also to behaviors not seen prior to deployment.
A common condition associated with combat troops is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This very real condition is develops after being exposed to a distressing environment and causes frightening thoughts and memories. Sleepless nights and nightmares are also very common. Read this article from USA Today regarding rise in suicide of combat soldiers and PTSD. Army suicides rise..
When one is suffering with PTSD without proper counseling and support, it can be very frustrating and depressing. Anxiety setting in many times causes tension in the household. Understanding and identifying the signs and symptoms is the key to early treatment. More importantly prepare your children by talking honestly with them about the soldiers experiences and potential concerns before returning and throughout the transitioning phase after their return. Some signs and symptoms include:
- Frightening thoughts
- Emotional numbness
- Restless sleep
- Guilty feelings
- Loss of interest in previous enjoyable activities
- Memory loss especially related to the events in war
The Disabled American Veterans associations provides free counseling and classes for soldiers and their family members. Their focus is not on treatment by prescription medications but through counseling, education, and support groups. The nearest location for Beaufort and surrounding areas is at Fort Jackson. You may contact them by calling 803-751-1128. Visit the DAV’s website here for more information: Disabled American Veterans.