Military Related Trauma
Serving in the military is a life-long goal for many people. There can be immense pride and sense of purpose for people who have given their time and expertise to the armed forces. Although expected, in doing so, members can be exposed to experiences, situations, and sights that can be extremely stressful and traumatic. PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is common in military members. The effects of military related trauma usually show up after a tour of duty or at the end of a military career, although they can be experienced while still in service.
Military members may be more prone to trauma and PTSD due to:
- Lack of control over the length, type, and location of deployment
- Ongoing routine of exercises or deployments regardless of how disturbing or traumatic the previous exercise or deployment may have been
- Repetition of experiences within the service for a long time (stress is cumulative)
- Grief through the loss of other members being killed or seriously injured in the line of duty
- Grief due to suicide of a peer
- Experiencing the death of a child or civilian during deployment
- Working under extreme pressure from superiors and other military personnel
- Experiencing unrelenting situations and feelings of helplessness due to overwhelming demands (such as being in a constant state of anxiety due to the threat to your life)
- Dealing with physical injuries sustained in service
- Difficulties adjusting to life outside the military
Symptoms & signs of military related trauma
- Flashbacks to an unpleasant or traumatic situation
- Feelings of powerlessness
- Inability to move forward
- Survivor’s guilt
- Inappropriate use of alcohol or other substances (self-medicating)
- Self-destructive behaviours (problem gambling, excessive porn use, gaming, etc.)
- Thoughts of suicide
- Explosive outbursts of anger
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Feeling disconnected from loved ones or friends
- Avoiding people, places, or events that might remind you of the trauma you felt in service
When is it time to get help?
If you are struggling with the above symptoms and feeling like life itself is hard, it’s time to seek help.
Trauma and PTSD in military personnel is a serious condition and should be treated as soon as possible. “In 2017, the VSMS measured the magnitude of suicide in the CAF Veteran population. Both males and females were significantly more likely to die by suicide than the Canadian general population over the approximately four decades examined.”
If you, or someone you know is considering suicide, and is in a dangerous or life-threatening situation, please call 911 or proceed to your nearest emergency room.
For immediate help outside of our office hours, throughout Alberta, please call 211 or one of the following distress lines:
- Edmonton: The Crisis Centre call 780 482 HELP (4357)
- Greater Edmonton region: Rural Distress Line at 1-800-232-7288.
- Calgary: 403 266 HELP (4357)
Military related trauma treatment methods
You and your therapist will find one that’s right for you and your unique circumstances. There are several treatment methods that have been shown to be effective in treating trauma and PTSD.
- Eye movement desensitization reprocessing therapy (EMDR) is defined by EMDR Canada as an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma and many other mental health problems that utilized bilateral eye stimulation or somatic responding.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach to treatment that focuses on how people’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs influence their behaviour and how they perceive themselves.
- Virtual reality assisted therapy (VRAT) is a computer-based system that allows a user to experience a sense of presence in a computer-generated or video presented three-dimensional environment. It’s a form of therapy that utilizes the immersive experience that VR technology provides to support individuals who experience anxiety related to common fears or phobias.
- Hypnosis and hypnotherapy can allow clients to travel deeper into the unconscious or subconscious to look at and work with issues and ideas perhaps inaccessible otherwise. It’s like guided daydreaming: a form of relaxed concentration.
- Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) is an effective, research-backed, non-invasive process in which a focused magnetic field stimulates under-active brain cells, activates them to work more efficiently and transforms lives through symptom reduction. rTMS can be particularly effective when used to treat severe depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, OCD, chronic pain, migraines, post concussion symptoms, and burnout that has not fully responded to conventional treatments (medication/therapy).
What will I get out of treatment with Insight Psychological?
Talking with a therapist can help you to move forward from your time in the service. Engaging in proven treatment methods can alleviate the trauma you feel you’ve been experiencing over and over. We have therapists with experience treating military personnel with trauma or PTSD. You deserve to feel better and we’d be honoured to be part of your process to optimal mental health. Contact us to learn more or to book an appointment.
 2018 Veteran Suicide Mortality Study