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Military Spouses and Secondary Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

By , April 12, 2010 11:42 am

Part Two:

More thoughts from Richard Danielson’s article “They Wage a War Far from the Battlefield”:

To count as PTSD, the symptoms such as nightmares, insomnia, or flashbacks, must have lasted more than a month, and must have hurt the patient’s ability to function at work or in relationships.  A key factor in the diagnosis is being directly exposed to a traumatic event. This wasn’t the case with psychologist Sunich’s patient, a wife of a deployed soldier.

Tom Berger, a senior analyst for veterans benefits and mental health issues for the Vietnam Vets of America notes, “There’s a lot of research to show that partners and spouses and kids suffer from secondary PTSD.”

A 2005 study of the fmilies of Dutch peacekeepers found that partners of soldiers with PTSD symptoms reported more trouble sleeping and marital problems than partners of soldiers with no symptoms. Dr. Carri-Ann Gibson, director of the PTSD and trauma recovery program at James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa, Florida, says “If somebody is with you and they’re constantly hypervigilant … you can sometimes take on that kind of anxiety.”

Gibson continues “Unresolved traumas in the past, such as car accidents, can trigger PTSD symptoms in spouses facing anxiety related to their loved one’s deployment. Also, a lot of exposure to war news can drive a more general anxiety for someone living in constant fear for their spouse.”

Captain John D. VanderKaay, a chaplain at MacDill Air Force Base observes, “Though the military has gotten better at recognizing and responding to PTSD in military families, more needs to be done. The nation as a whole has not had to sacrifice in this war. So the hardships fall squarely on theose who volunteered to serve and their loved ones.”

VanderKaay adds, “The cost of war has been put on the back of the military family.”

To read more on this article:

Charlene’s Note:

I’ll be posting more on this topic, including some of my own personal experience, soon.

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