BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Members of the military experience things many civilians never will. Some are shot at or have seen a colleague get shot, maybe even die. These types of traumatic situations can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
According to the National Center for PTSD, 11 to 20 out of every 100 Iraq or Afghanistan veterans will develop the mental health disorder. That number is even higher for Vietnam veterans.
"The symptoms often include hyper vigilance, scanning one's environment looking for risks, being more generally anxious, not sleeping well, nightmares. Sometimes they will re-experience the traumatic events during waking hours," Biloxi VA Licensed Supervisory Psychologist Dr. Linda Cox said.
Cox said the symptoms will sometimes go away without treatment.
"Part of the key is to understand when they are not going away, or if they are so severe that you can't get up and go to work, function and hug your spouse. Then you need to get help," Cox said.
Dr. Katie Payne is part of a team of doctors that provides treatment to veterans with PTSD at the Biloxi VA.
"A lot of times what we see is veterans who have become completely isolated. They have withdrawn socially, and when they leave our program they are reporting significant gains in that area," Payne said. "They are reconnecting with their family. They are reconnecting with their friends."
More than 200 veterans from all over the country come to the Biloxi VA every year for treatment.
"We do a pre-assessment and a post-assessment, and we see significant gains in PTSD symptoms, depression symptoms, overall quality of life which is our main goal here," Payne said.
"They are very brave to have gone over there and served," Cox said. "When they come back, they are very brave to come in to treatment and talk about it because that's not easy either."
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has more information about PTSD symptoms and treatment at http://www.ptsd.va.gov/PTSD/public/PTSD-overview/basics/how-common-is-ptsd.asp.