Post-traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) can be described as mental disorders that are experienced after an exposure to a disturbing event such as war, plane crush, domestic violence, earthquakes etc. When one is exposed to such horrifying events, s/he takes quite a good amount of time to forget and during that period, the victim experiences biological and psychological changes. Throughout history, wars have been known to trigger psychological problems especially to soldiers who after returning home; they become unable to adjust to home life after the war. This work is meant to explore on the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders that are experienced by the Iraq War veterans, with special focus on the causes, the Iraq conditions that contributed to these disorders, the symptoms of PTSD as well as the how the war affected the soldiers and their families. The work will also give the statistics on the soldiers who returned home with psychological problems after the war.
Most of the veteran soldiers were deployed to go and help in fighting the Iraq War. However most of them returned home with signs of PTSD. This was due to several factors that contributed to the large number of veteran soldiers suffering from PTSD. Some of these include preparedness in which some of the soldiers feel guilty and angry that they did not receive enough preparations on how to handle some situations such as exposure to biological and nuclear weapons. In such situations, they became helpless and this always haunted them that they were insufficient during the war. Therefore it was this persistent anger and the feeling of guilty that increased the victims’ risks for PTSD (Litz and Orsilo 25). Another cause of the many psychological problems experienced by the veteran war participants is exposure. The Iraq war involved a more conventional exposure to weapon firing therefore one was anxious that he may be fired by the enemy, be fired accidentally by a colleague or fire someone. Most of them were also exposed to witnessing a friend dying, injuries etc. All these memories stick in their minds and after the war; it becomes difficult for them to remember therefore they keep on haunting them (Litz and Orsilo 25).
The aftermath of the war may also be a serious cause of the psychological problems experienced by the veterans. The aftermath exposure to seeing and handling bodies of dead soldiers and civilians, sounds of dying women and men crying for their lives, smell of decomposing bodies etc were very demoralizing and disturbing (Litz and Orsilo 25). The exposure to biological, chemical and radiological weapons also affected the health of these soldiers chronically. Some of the soldiers that were exposed to these chemical suffered chronic mental and psychological disorders as a result (Litz and Orsilo 26).
However, while most of the psychological problems were as a result of the above mentioned factors, the conditions in Iraq also contributed to some extent. The working and living conditions were not conducive in the war zone. Soldiers had to cope and live with pressures and irritations connected to life. They experienced fatigue due to the long working days; sleeping less and working for many hours. They had to wake up very early and sleep very late, tired yet needed to prepare for the following day’s work (Litz and Orsilo 26). They also experienced unfavorable climate; being in a foreign land, they had to adjust to new climatic conditions. The soldiers also had to work with the available equipment which was sometimes not sufficient for all of them as the stores run out. They also had to eat foreign and sometimes undesirable food since they were in foreign land, thus they were forced to adapt to different culture and foods (Litz and Orsilo 26). Even though it is obvious that these conditions are non-traumatizing, they strain the individuals’ ability to cope thus contributing to post-traumatic problems.
Most of the veterans that were involved in the Iraq war experienced some of the most chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders. The severity of these disorders however depended largely on the degree to which the victim was exposed. Victims of PTSD are reported to exhibit three distinct groups of symptoms (Wilson, Friedman and Lindy 336). Among these is arousal which is characterized by lack of concentration, the victim tends to avoid the people around him, lack of sleep, quick in angering etc. Re-experiencing is another group of symptoms which includes nightmares, disturbing thoughts, persisting flashbacks and emotional Distress when the victim remembers of the traumatic event. The other group of symptoms is avoidance in which the victim tends to avoid thinking of the event, the victim becomes inactive and develops low concern in activities, s/he tends to keep distance from the other people and his emotions become numb (Wilson, Friedman and Lindy 336).
Some of the war effects that the veterans and their families experienced included loses of their loved ones. Most of these soldiers when they returned from the war committed suicide because of the stresses that keep on haunting them (Korb and Duggan 5). Another effect of the war is divorce. The rate of divorce has been reported to increase at a very high rate especially by those returning from the war. This is due to the psychological problems which contribute to drug abuse, drinking and domestic violence which in turn lead to divorce (Korb and Duggan 5-6). It is reported that one in every five soldiers returning from the war is experiencing or shows some symptoms of PTSD. This number therefore totalizes to approximately 345,000 who have so far been diagnosed of PTSD (Korb and Duggan 4).
It can therefore be concluded that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) are psychological problems that one suffers when exposed to traumatic events such as war, accidents etc. The effects of the Iraq war were very intense that they affected both the participants and their families as a result of the PTSD. Some of the causes of PTSD included lack of enough preparation for the war, exposure to terrifying sights such as rotting bodies, exposure to weapon firing, biological and nuclear weapons. The working and living conditions in Iraq were also not favorable and to some extent contributed to the chances of suffering from PTSD. The symptoms of PTSD are grouped into three categories; arousal, avoidance and re-experiencing. These symptoms have been diagnosed in over 345,000 soldiers that returned from the war.