Returning from Deployment and Common Stress Reactions

Knowing signs of combat and post traumatic stress can help catch it early on.

With the ever increasing awareness of veterans and service-members experiencing Post Traumatic Stress, it’s easy to overlook a simple and much needed observation: “almost all service members will have [stress] reactions after returning from a war zone.”  (Returning from the War Zone, DVA)

Not only are there extreme challenges and difficulties experienced while serving, returning home also has its own accoutrement of stressors.

Signs of Post-Deployment Combat Stress

  • Tiredness and difficulty sleeping

  • Insomnia, nightmares and flashbacks

  • Decreased appetite/ upset stomach

  • Rapid heartbeat or breathing

  • Feeling numb, angry, nervous, guilty, sad, or abandoned

  • Hopelessness regarding the future

  • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to cope

  • Lack of exercise and weight gain

  • Road rage

While this is not a master list of stress reactions that veterans experience, notice how similar these symptoms are to Post Traumatic Stress.  The important distinction between these common stress reactions and PTS is that with PTS, the stress reactions don’t go away and they continue to interfere with normal life.

Despite the numerous challenges that returning servicemen and women face, there are things you can do about it.  Previously, we shared the idea of “pointing positive” and building coping skills to help overcome these stress reactions and move past them.  It’s possible that although someone may have the potential to develop PTS, that building an assortment of coping skills can reduce the magnitude of the symptoms or even help eliminate them.

Coping Skills For PTSD and Combat Stress

  • Start or begin anew with hobbies and creative outlets

  • Share about your wartime experiences with the right people and at the right time

  • Volunteer in a local community garden, humane society, another organization you favor

  • Join a chapter of the American Legion, which can be a good place to drink responsibly and socially, meet other veterans, and share about your experiences in a safe environment.

  • Join a rec league or a gym for building regular exercise into your life

Asking for help is one of the hardest things in our culture to do.  It’s in our nature to prove how tough we are and to embrace pain.  Pain points to an issue that needs resolution.  If you’re experiencing prolonged stress reactions after returning from deployment, give us a call today.  We’d love to partner with you in resolving PTS, depression, anxiety or any other mental health related issues so that you can be at home while you’re at home.