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What are the emotional problems threatening our returning student veterans?

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Veterans who have experienced trauma in war and combat might suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, and suicidal thoughts. It is important to know the warning signs of these conditions and, if there’s a problem, how to get involved in order to help your friend or family member cope and begin to get well.

PTSD

PTSD can develop after someone has experienced a life-threatening situation. People with PTSD often can’t stop thinking about what happened to them. They may try to avoid people and places that remind them of the trauma and frequently feel numb. People with PTSD often have trouble relaxing, startle easily and are often on guard.

Depression

People experiencing depression feel down or sad more days than not, and lose interest in activities that used to be enjoyable or fun. They feel low in energy and may be overly tired. People may feel hopelessness or despair, or experience the feeling that things will never get better. Depression may be especially likely when a person experiences a loss like the death of close friends. Learn more about depression.

Suicidal thoughts

Most people who are suicidal give definite warning signs that they plan to take their own lives, but those close to them are often unaware of the significance of these signals or are unsure of what to do about them. Trauma and personal loss can lead a depressed person to think about hurting themselves. If you think someone you know may be feeling suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Learn more about the warning signs of suicide.

Common Warning Signs of an Emotional Problem:

• Hopelessness about the future
• Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
• Jumpiness and constant alertness
• Troubling dreams, memories or flashbacks
• Increased heart rate and rapid breathing
• Insomnia and constant exhaustion
• Increased smoking or alcohol, drugs and/or food consumption
• Feeling nervous, helpless, fearful, sad, shocked and numb
• Irritability or agitation
• Self-blame, negativity or withdrawal