Veteran mental health care matters. Which is why we made this list of 5 things veterans can do to begin addressing PTSD and its symptoms.
For many Veterans, PTSD is more than just another military acronym. It’s a life-changing condition.
Regardless of what type of combat or which war the Veteran was involved in, PTSD is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of bravery. Rather, it’s the brain’s way of trying to understand and process violent or traumatic events. And it can pop up when and where and how you least expect it.
Symptoms range from chronic physical pain to anxiety to nightmares to paranoia, and all of them should be taken seriously. If you’re a veteran who may be suffering from PTSD (take a free quiz here to see if you might be), here are five ways to begin the path to healing.
*Note: This list of tips should not be substituted for medical care. In the event of a mental health emergency, please contact the National Veterans Crisis Hotline: 800-273-8255, and press 1.
1. Take care of your body.
This may seem simple, but your mental health is very much affected by your physical health. Daily exercise combats levels of adrenaline and increases endorphins; a healthy diet gives your brain better fuel to repair itself; and a good nights’ sleep will do wonders.
2. Practice Mindfulness
Whatever type of mindfulness practice you choose, slowing down and taking a breath is crucial to anyone struggling with PTSD. From meditation to yoga to massage, we recommend finding a consistent way to find peace in the present moment.
3. Get a Pet
This might be our favorite one. According to multiple studies, adopting a trained pet can help improve PTSD symptoms by 82 percent. According to one veteran interviewed by National Geographic, his dog has made a world of difference. “Putting my hands on her calms me down, and it calms her down…She senses the chemical changes in my body.”
4. Engage in Social Interaction
Often, people experiencing PTSD will do their best to avoid groups of people. Whether this is due to depression, anxiety, or another symptom, this tendency can lead to total social isolation. And, while it’s totally okay to stop going to parties, we recommend maintaining relationships with a few trusted people in your life. These meaningful connections are crucial to anyone experiencing PTSD.
5. Seek Professional Help
For Veterans experiencing PTSD, there are plenty of resources out there to help get you on the path to improved mental health. At Endeavors®, Clients with PTSD are seen at the Cohen Clinic, which provides high-quality, accessible, and integrated mental health care to Veterans and their families regardless of role while in uniform, discharge status, or ability to pay.
At any of the three locations (San Antonio, El Paso, and Killeen) or via Telehealth, Veterans with PTSD can receive evidence-based trauma protocols on a weekly basis. In 2018, about 85% of clients who were diagnosed with PTSD reported symptom reduction!
If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs of PTSD, it may be time to schedule an appointment with one of our trained mental health providers. Our clinics are available and offer Telehealth, face-to-face therapy delivered online, to reduce barriers to care . To find out how to get started with Endeavors’ PTSD treatment for veterans, click here! We’d love to connect with you.
Note: This list of tips should not be substituted for medical care. PTSD is a serious mental health condition, and if you or someone you know is or has experienced PTSD symptoms, we recommend seeking professional medical help either through Endeavors or somewhere else. In the event of a mental health emergency, please refer to the below resources:
National Veterans Crisis Hotline: 800-273-8255, press 1
National Women Veterans Hotline: 855-829-6636