Post Deployment Stress

What is Post Deployment Stress?

Friends and family members of returning service members often wonder what to expect after their loved ones return from the combat zone. This information will help those recognize the warning signs and provide information on the important role family and friends play in helping to encourage veterans to seek help.

Distress Responses:
Distress Responses are not uncommon for people who have been involved in high stress situations. The symptoms may be physical in nature or emotional. Symptoms are usually mild and go away after several weeks. If these problems persist longer than a month or two after returning home, a medical professional should be contacted. Some behaviors related to stress:

Sleep Problems - difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, waking early and/or not being able to get back to sleep

Restlessness - being jittery, or showing a high level of nervous energy

Overly Watchful - oversensitive about things in the environment (noise, physical objects)

Social Withdrawal - avoiding family and friends, always wanting to be alone

Risk Behaviors:
People returning from combat can sometimes start or increase the frequency of behaviors that can compromise their health, such as:

Cigarette Smoking - often starts or increases in the combat zone, and continues or increases upon return.

Alcohol Use - although alcohol is not allowed during deployment, it may start upon returning home as a means to reduce stress, increasing to dangerous levels.

Reckless Driving - returning veterans experience a transition from the intensity in driving in a war zone to routine driving in a civilian setting.

Other Behaviors: Any of the following can be very serious and should be addressed by a medical or mental health professional

Violence - there is a chance that irritability and anger turn into violence. Mixing anger with alcohol could cause even bigger problems. Family should seek outside help if conflicts become violent.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - is a condition that results after a traumatic event, such as combat. Symptoms include: nightmares, flashbacks, unsettling memories of the trauma, excitability, anxiousness, nervousness, hyper vigilance, and withdrawal from people and situations.

Depression - is different from normal human unhappiness, it is a deep unchanging, and prolonged sadness that does not respond to attempts to 'cheer up'. Loss of interest in family, friends, social gathering, work, hobbies, loss of sense of wellness and self esteem, change in appetite, and changes in individual functioning, such as sleep concentration are all symptoms of depression.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) - is a condition that results from being exposed to explosive events. While many veterans may be aware that they have a head trauma, some have sustained a mild injury and may not be aware. Symptoms can include headaches, impulsive behaviors, anger outbursts, changes in personality, slowed thinking.

Suicidal Thoughts - conversation regarding hopelessness and helplessness warrant immediate intervention! Call the Crisis Hotline at 244-9191 or Emergency Services 833-9200 for assistance.

Seeking Help
It is often difficult for veterans to seek help for their emotional and physical trauma they might be experiencing due to feeling ashamed, and seeing their suffering as a sign of personal weakness. Family and friends can help by pointing out that emotional problems are no different than medical problems, and must be diagnosed and treated like any medical condition. It is important to let them know that their health affects the health and wellbeing of the entire family. The good news is that there are treatment options available.

For more information or assistance, contact Soundside Wellness Consultants at
850-226-8585 in Fort Walton Beach or 850-689-7844 in Crestview.

seeking help

Members who have experienced the intense stress of war are at high risk for suicide. If you (or your loved one) have had these thoughts, please reach out for help immediately! Call the Crisis Hotline at 850-244-9191.

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