Health Watch: Living with PTSD - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

Health Watch: Living with PTSD

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 11 to 20 percent of soldiers who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.

A Fort Benning army wife says her husband returned from Afghanistan two years ago a changed man. She says he was withdrawn, angry and had trouble sleeping because of the nightmares about losing his friends in combat. Her advice to other wives is simple.

"Encourage him to get help, let him know you're going to be there no matter what. I married you for better or for worse," said the army wife, who did not want her name disclosed.

Her husband is seeking help. Psychiatrist Dr. Kaizad Shroff says medicine, therapy and some social changes can help soldiers manage the disease.

"I get a good variety of soldiers who are coming back and they're not able to adjust to civilian life, they're constantly thinking about the war, what they saw, friends who've died," said Shroff.

Dr. Shroff says soldiers are returning from the battlefield suffering flashbacks, or reliving the trauma over and over. Spouses may notice the soldiers tend to isolate themselves, shy away from family events, and have trouble sleeping. Anxiety will also be present, but Dr. Shroff says there's a difference between anxiety and PTSD. He says the gold standard for diagnosis is a psychiatric interview to determine which. Once diagnosed, treatment can include medication, therapy and social changes. But Dr. Shroff warns the patient to be patient, because life will get better once you learn how to manage the disease.

Untreated PTSD can lead to suicide. The Department of the Army says soldier suicides outnumbered combat-related deaths last year. More than 349 soldiers died of suicide, across the four military branches, or one every 25 hours.

For more information about PTSD, you can call the Bradley Center at (706) 320-3700 or the Pastoral Institute at (706) 649-6500.

Teresa Whitaker

In addition to co-anchoring the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights, Teresa serves as the Healthwatch reporter for WRBL. More>>

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