For most veterans, post-deployment reactions subside over time. For some, however, increased physical arousal and disturbing stress reactions persist, leading to the development of mental health problems.
If you still experience a high level of tension in your body after a period of time, sleeping badly, focusing on activity, withdrawing from the people around you and from public transport and crowded places… Well, then you should seek help!
Tom Torgersen, injured veteran from a UN-operation in Lebanon
During the first period after returning from deployment, the following reactions are common:
- Increased physical arousal and hyper-vigilance
- Heightened sensitivity for sounds and sudden movements
- Sleep disturbance
- Irritability and anger
- Avoidance of places and situations
It is important to not allow traumatic combat experiences to “set in” and develop into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Veterans who are still struggling with reactions like sleep disturbances, flashbacks, nightmares or anxiety six months after returning, should be offered support to help process their traumatic experiences.
It is important that military personnel get support to find effective strategies for calming and processing traumas. This can prevent them from resorting to unhealthy coping strategies, such as alcohol or other substance abuse.
Contact your general practitioner for support or for further referral to psychiatric health services if necessary.