When the Fighting Doesn’t Stop: War Trauma and Emotional Health

When the Fighting Doesn’t Stop: War Trauma and Emotional Health

PTSD or post traumatic stress disorder is something we as human beings experience after periods of intense trauma. What is important to remember is that when we say trauma, this could refer to a whole number of experiences.

Infants may feel traumatized if there is a delay in feeding time! At the same time a child who gets stuck in a room with the lights out until someone hears them and opens the door might be traumatized by the experience too. An adult who survives a bad car accident is well likely to suffer from symptoms of PTSD and so on.

Bearing all this in mind, for those of us who have never experienced the horrors of war first hand, is it even possible to imagine the level of trauma experienced by those who have?

War Trauma – High Level PTSD

Sexual, physical and emotional abuse can all cause PTSD to a particularly damaging degree. So can prolonged exposure to war both to a civilian whose home is being attacked and as a soldier in the thick of battle.

Like with any form of PTSD, war trauma leaves those who have experienced it shaken, ungrounded, disconnected and hyper vigilant. Studies have shown the affect various wars have had on the soldiers returning home as well as on civilian survivors such as refugees.

In any case, the effects were not pleasant.

The Effects in Particular

Among the factors that contribute to the effects of war trauma, age and time of exposure both come into play. Younger people, children in particular were said to suffer from symptoms of PTSD that lasted as long as ten years after the traumatic war in question.

Soldiers who were in action for prolonged periods or in particularly harsh conditions were also recorded to have suffered the worst of the effects.

Commonly Experienced Effects

Effects of war trauma on a mild spectrum would include high levels of stress as well as easy susceptibility to stress related breakdowns. Other mental health disparities such as generalized anxiety, sleep issues and the onset of depression have also been noted among commonly occurring after affects of war trauma.

Taking up unhealthy coping mechanisms like drugs or alcohol to dull the intensity of the myriad of emotions felt and the feelings of unmanageability is not uncommon either. It is important however not to forget the sheer terror experienced by those in war time, helpless civilians in particular.

High Intensity War Trauma

It has also been recorded in cases that trauma has been so deep that individuals have lost their abilities to speak, refuse to eat for days on end. Many veterans report deterioration of familial relationships such as those with spouses and children.

There has also been a visible correlation between war trauma and violent behavior on the part of those returning home; long after the war is over. Such violence in most cases is reactionary, triggered by stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Night terror and waking up in cold sweats is not uncommon. It is important to remember that war trauma can pretty much incapacitate an individual as well as adversely affect those around them such as families.

What If I’m Suffering?

If you or someone you care about has been through a traumatic war related experience either as a civilian, a refugee or on the frontlines; the first thing to remember is what you’re experiencing is normal!

There are not many (if any at all) who can witness and experience such horrors and come out unscathed. Further, healing from war trauma is a delicate and sometimes long process where besides putting in the work, you will need all the help you can get.

Counseling May be Helpful

Where in extreme cases, psychiatry and medication might be needed, in many instances; it really helps to go in for professional therapy. Couple or marriage counseling as well as family therapy can help you reintegrate with those you love. You may also seek therapy for depression and as well as therapy for anxiety which can help alleviate some of the unpleasant symptoms of PTSD.

Yes it is a long and sometimes hard road, but in order to heal, the first thing you need to do is start on the road towards it. No one challenges how and to what extend the experiences of those suffering from war trauma have broken them. All we can say is though broken, as human beings; we always have the power to put ourselves back together!

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