Military members often struggle with anxiety and mental health challenges. After serving, they may deal with flashbacks and memories of what they witnessed while serving. There are many beneficial experiences veterans gain from serving in the military. Commonly, they struggle with the transition home again to work and family life as a civilian. Anxiety can show up as both physical and emotional symptoms. Signs of anxiety include nausea, trouble sleeping, and irritability among other things. Learning to deal with anxiety will help veterans who struggle with symptoms and find support from others who understand.
Types of Anxiety
When it comes to anxiety disorders, there are a number of them that may impact a veteran’s daily life. Not only this, but they can suffer from experiences that include a few of the anxiety types, with crossover elements of each. The reality of anxiety disorders is they may be misdiagnosed or missed completely. When a loved one understands what they are seeing, they can offer better support for healing. Anxiety is not something people deal with on an occasional basis. It is usually a continual experience of feeling anxious, worried, and even panicked when triggered by something in the environment. Veterans, in particular, are susceptible to anxiety because of their experiences with their work. They may also come into their work as a veteran with existing mental health issues, past trauma, abuse, or other factors which may put them at higher risk for anxiety disorders. Learning about and knowing the different types of anxiety helps people feel more comfortable with understanding what a loved one needs to support healing.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Veterans can worry about lots of things when it comes to GAD. The worrying and anxiety that comes from worry are often difficult to control. The feeling they are out of control and not able to manage their thoughts can make the anxiety worse. Veterans often carry a lot of concerns on their backs, including their loved ones, the people they serve, and anyone they have dealt with who also may have experienced trauma as a veteran. This may cause veterans to be concerned about things they needn’t be. GAD is often diagnosed when a veteran is unable to control their worrying for at least 6 months and has 3 or more symptoms. This constant state of worry can lead to depressive disorders and other challenges if not treated
A panic disorder is exactly like it sounds. A person experiences severe anxiety that leads to panic. These anxiety attacks include sweating, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, and tingling or numb feelings. That fear of control or of dying can seem extremely real at that moment. Panic disorder can land people in the hospital emergency room because they literally think they are dying, only to find out it is an extreme form of anxiety. It can be commonly associated with PTSD. The key is to work out what root causes brought about panic disorder and also mitigate environmental and personal triggers that might make it difficult to navigate healing. With proper counseling, support, and recovery work, an individual is more likely to find healing from this disorder.
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
Intense anxiety and fear of being judged or rejected can be difficult. Veterans with SAD often feel anxious with other people, in bars, or in other situations. Veterans impacted may suffer from nausea, increased heart rate, and avoidance of social situations. This might make it hard to hold jobs or go out and do things with family and friends. Veterans who are impacted may experience physical and emotional symptoms which can be debilitating.
Veterans who are affected by the irrational fear of situations or objects may have phobias. They may realize it is illogical but not have control over stopping this behavior. This can be anything from opening and closing doors a set number of times or thinking a specific phobia may cause anxiety. Common phobias include insects, animals, germs, and more. To have constant fears about whether a stove is turned off, the doors are locked, or animals and germs can create an environment of fear for that person and also anxiety. With so many different ways a person is impacted by phobias, it is important to seek proper treatment and support to heal.
If a veteran feels overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety, diagnosed or not, it is going to impact sleep, thoughts, and feelings about themselves. There should be no stigma attached to seeking help. Anxiety is a common health issue for military members. Therapy and treatment may be available at a military facility. A primary care manager can refer them for treatment. The Department of Veteran’s Affairs is another place that offers support.
Getting Further Assistance
When a veteran is struggling, they may be looking outside the military people to help them. They may be the ones who are brushing aside their symptoms and not providing support in their eyes. In this instance, it helps to find providers who offer treatment for these issues that can offer help. Support groups are helpful but they may not be able to connect with support easily if they work on the base. A lot depends on the person and their circumstances as to where they seek help. Outpatient treatment offers a way to seek treatment options without going too far away or spending time off work to get help. Anxiety disorders can lead to substance use disorders and often co-occur. Seeking dual diagnosis support is a key component of healing from this type of experience.
Forge is a place to come and recover your life from addiction. Our counselors and therapists are trained to help Veterans and First Responders who struggle with addiction, mental health issues, and other tough times.