Has PTSD Become an Epidemic?

PTSD Epidemic

An Epidemic of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

A veteran dies by suicide every 80 minutes

228,875: number of U.S. troops who’ve served in either Iraq or Afghanistan with PTSD

7: percent of American population who are vets

But they account for 20 percent of suicides in America

Since 2001:

1.5 million new vets

50,409 wounded in action

Most common diagnosis of the 1.5 million vets

  • Musculoskeletal and connective tissue diseases: 476,763

  • Mental disorder: 444,551 (239,174 with diagnosed PTSD)

  • Nervous system or sense organ diseases: 378,428

834,467: number of vets needing VA health care

55 percent of vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan sought veteran’s health care.

$600 million: approximate amount VA spent on treating PTSD in 2013

50,000 new veterans were diagnosed with PTSD during 2012,

In the last three months of 2012, the national average of new military PTSD cases reached 184 per day.

Nearly 20 %: of female Iraq, Afghanistan female vets have PTSD

80: approximate number of names for the condition (now called PTSD) since ancient times

Below is a PTSD timeline

  • In the Bible, King Saul committed atrocities, flew into violent rages. “The spirit of God left him, and an evil spirit sent by the Lord tormented him.” (Samuel 16:14).

  • 1678: Swiss Physicians identify ‘Nostalgia’ (melancholy, disturbed sleep or insomnia, anxiety, cardiac palpitations)

  • 1861-1865: U.S. military physicians document stresses of Civil War soldiers

  • 1905: ‘Battle shock’ is regarded as a legitimate medical condition by the Russian Army

  • 1917-1919: Distress of soldiers attributed to ‘shell shock’ during WWI

  • 1939-1945: Terminology changes to ‘combat exhaustion’ during WWII

  • 1969: Concept: ‘Vietnam combat reaction’

  • 1980: PTSD by name is diagnosed.

  • 2008: Popular media. Grey’s Anatomy introduces a character with combat-related PTSD

Factors that can increase the likelihood of PTSD:

  • The intensity of the trauma

  • Being hurt or losing a friend (combat buddy)

  • Being physically close to the traumatic event

  • Feeling you were not in control

  • Having a lack of support after the event

Traumatic experiences in the military include:

  • Seeing dead bodies

  • Sexual harassment

  • Being shot at

  • Loneliness

  • Killing people

  • Being ambushed

  • Worrying about family

  • Getting hit by mortar fire

PTSD symptoms

Some common symptoms of PTSD include:

Nightmares, Flashbacks, Memory and concentration problems, Hyperarousal, Hypervigilance, Intrusive memories, Avoidance, Abnormal startle responses and Feeling worse when reminded of trauma.

Without treatment, PTSD can lead to:

  • Alcohol and drug abuse

  • Reliving terror

  • Heart attacks

  • Depression

  • Dementia

  • Stroke

  • Suicide

But combat trauma is not the only cause of PTSD:

  • Abuse

  • Mental

  • Physical

  • Sexual

  • Verbal (i.e., sexual and/or violent content)

  • Catastrophe

  • Harmful and fatal accidents

  • Natural disasters

  • Terrorism

  • Violent attack

  • Animal attack

  • Assault

  • Battery and domestic violence

  • Rape

  • War, battle, and combat

  • Death

  • Explosion

  • Gunfire

The main treatments for people with PTSD are:

  • Psychotherapy (“talk” therapy),

  • Medications

  • Or both

Veterans: Are you are in crisis? Your options:

  • Call 911

  • Go to the nearest Emergency Room

  • Call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

  • Contact the Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, press 1 (text 838255)


  1. http://maketheconnection.net/conditions/ptsd?gclid=CI7D3sy45bsCFcVQ7AoddhwABQ

  2. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/01/charts-us-veterans-ptsd-war-iraq-afghanistan

  3. Department of Veteran Affairs

  4. USA Today, Feb. 20, 2013 article on PTSD

  5. http://www.chausa.org/publications/health-progress/article/may-june-2013/ptsd-the-sacred-wound

  6. http://historyofptsd.wordpress.com/timeline-2/

  7. http://www.medicinenet.com/posttraumatic_stress_disorder/page6.htm

  8. http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/where-to-get-help.asp

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