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PTSD Symptoms — in Veterans’ Words

JUNE 24, 2019 | 3-minute read

What is PTSD really like?

We asked Veterans to describe what PTSD is like for them. Their candid accounts paint a vivid picture of how PTSD affects different people in different ways — and how treatment can help relieve their symptoms.

“We all in the military a lot of times think we’re the only one,” says Linda, a combat trauma nurse who served in the U.S. Army and Air Force. “We don’t know that there’s this big wave of Veterans that have been exposed to trauma that can get help.”

A wide variety of symptoms may be signs that you are experiencing PTSD. For some Veterans, like Noel, sleeping through the night was difficult after he left the Marines. 

“Some of the symptoms that I noticed immediately for me were the restlessness,” says Noel. “Not being able to sleep at night.”

It will get better. Amber, U.S. Army Veteran

For others, feeling easily irritated or emotionally cut off from family and friends can strain their relationships. And, it’s not just the symptoms of PTSD that can disrupt your life — it’s also how you might react to them, such as pulling away from other people and becoming isolated. Elliott, a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, reacted with anger. “A lot of the relationships that I had — whether they were romantic, friends, family — were all deteriorating,” he says.

Marie’s squad leader was killed in Iraq, and the pace of combat forced her to move on quickly. She never quite felt comfortable when she returned home and was on edge all the time. “Just being very paranoid of loud noise [and] jackhammers,” she remembers. “I just didn’t talk about it to anybody.”

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, know that it can get better. Treatment works, and recovery is possible. Use this tool to find resources in your community.

“I went to the VA clinic and was assigned a psychiatrist,” says Joshua, a Vietnam Veteran. “She really helped me through a lot of the issues that I was facing.”

Treatment can help you recognize your symptoms, identify your triggers, and teach you ways to cope with them. “These classes were for PTSD … to help the Veterans to try to overcome their fears and triggers and everything — and the tools that you can use to control it,” says Rick, a Vietnam Veteran.


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