As the numbers of PTSD sufferers rises, families and governments are looking for new ways to cope. A new survey conducted by Blue Star Families has found that post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD is now a leading worry for military families. The US based study comes after American military officials released new statistics showing nearly 20% of war veterans reported symptoms of PTSD.
With so many new cases of PTSD, the US could end up paying as much as $6.2 billion helping military personnel in the two years following deployment. This financial cost is coupled with the human toll. Many former military personnel will suffer with depression, anxiety
and other mental health problems. Worse still, the US Army has reported a record number of suicides this year with an average of one service member per day taking their own life.
"There is a major health crisis facing those men and women who have served our nation in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Terri Tanielian, the studies co-leader and a researcher at RAND, a non-profit research organization. "Unless they receive appropriate and effective care for these mental health conditions, there will be long-term consequences for them and for the nation. Unfortunately, we found there are many barriers preventing them from getting the high-quality treatment they need."
One of the greatest barriers to treatment is the stigma associated with PTSD and its treatment. In the survey, only 35% of those polled said the military member in their family had sought treatment. This is despite 62% of respondents reporting symptoms of PTSD. With so many service men and women going untreated, the potential to save lives and money is immense. Researchers have estimated that by providing more people with high quality treatment, the US could save $2 billion and untold lives.
Another stumbling block in the treatment of PTSD is its often delayed onset. Many service members show no signs of the condition for months. It is not until they are home and settling back into civilian life that their symptoms begin to manifest. This means they are not under military supervision and may simply decide not to seek treatment. When post-traumatic stress disorder occurs at home, it can tear a family apart. A loved one who was once bubbly and open may seem depressed and shut themselves away from the people that care about them.
Those who do seek treatment from civilian doctors are often seen as simply depressed. They may be prescribed a number of anti-depressants which alleviate the symptoms but do nothing to fix the underlying problem. To help prevent this, families of service members need to be educated about PTSD. This will supplement the training and services already provided to military personnel and insure that going home does not mean going it alone.