Post Deployment Mental Health Brief Life Skills Support Center Maxwell AFB, AL 36112
COMBAT STRESS/WAR ZONE STRESS Imposed condition brought on by exposure to traumatic events (such as terrorist attacks, war,crimes,natural disaster), with adverse biological and psychological effects which impair physical or mental health.
OVERVIEW • Historical perspective • Stress reactions • Adaptation Phases • Mental Health Concerns • Warning Signs • Prevention • Seek Help When…
HISTORY PERSPECTIVE Since the Civil War to the Present “Combat Stress” has had various names. Civil War- called “nostalgia” or homesickness WWI- “shell shock” from constant exposure to bombing WWII- “combat fatigue” from multiple battles
STRESS REACTIONS Are individual Vary from mild to extreme Completely normal reaction after a traumatic experience and/or prolonged exposure to stress Are not a source of weakness or inadequacy Having a stress reaction does not equal health problems, mental illness, or other enduring negative consequences Typically 4 spectrums of reaction
Agitation Anxiety Apprehension Denial Depression Fear Feeling overwhelmed Grief Guilt Inappropriate emotional responses Irritability Loss of emotional control Severe Pain Uncertainty Emotional/Psychological Reactions
Chest pain Chills Difficulty Breathing Dizziness Elevated blood pressure Fainting Grinding teeth Headaches Muscle tremors Nausea Profuse sweating Rapid heart rate Shock symptoms Thirst Twitches Visual difficulties Vomiting Weakness Physical Reactions
Blaming Changes in alertness Confusion Difficulty identifying the familiar Hyper-vigilance Increased/decreased awareness of surroundings Intrusive images Loss of orientation Memory problems Nightmares Poor abstract thinking Poor attention Poor Concentration Poor Decisions Poor problems solving Cognitive/Mental Reactions
Alcohol consumption Antisocial acts Changes in activity Changes in communication Changes in libido Changes in speech pattern Emotional Outbursts Erratic movements Hyper-alert to environment Inability to rest Loss of increased appetite Pacing Somatic complaints Start reflex Suspiciousness Withdrawal Behavioral Reactions
ADAPTATION TO STRESSOR Acute Adaptation Interval -Occurs from the point where the troop is objectively safe and no longer exposed to severe stressors (1 month after return to US) Chronic Adaptation -adjustment to experiences across the life span, not linear and continuous
MENTAL HEALTH CONCERNS A very small portion of people will develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Acute Stress Disorder (ASD), or other severe mental health concerns Time is an important factor for most people to cope on their own Treatable if problems develop
WARNING SIGNS AND RED FLAGS Time Factor: 1-2 months post deployment (after returning home and away from hostilities) • Recurring thoughts, mental images or nightmares about the trauma • Sleep and appetite changes • Hyper-alert, easily startled • Feeling depressed and having low energy • Memory problems • Problems focusing and concentrating • Irritability, agitation, anger, and resentment • Spontaneous crying, feeling of despair and hopelessness • Avoidance of trauma reminders • Problems with decision making • Overly protective or fearful for loved ones
PREVENTION • Take care of yourself physical with good diet, adequate sleep, and moderate exercise • Build good social support networks (family, friends, chaplains, and co-workers) • Talk with those that have similar experiences • Take a relaxation class • Tell family and friends what you need in terms of support • Do not use alcohol or other substance to cope • If needed seek help early!
SEEK HELP WHEN YOU NOTICE CHANGES IN… • Work • Family Relationships • Recreation • School • Housing • Legal • Financial • Unit/Community Involvement
SUMMARY • Historical perspective • Stress reactions • Adaptation Phases • Mental Health Concerns • Warning Signs • Prevention • Seek Help When…