PTSD in Armed Forces

September 19, 2023

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can affect individuals who have experienced or witnessed traumatic events. Here are several factors that contribute to why PTSD is prevalent among military personnel:

  1. Combat Exposure: Military personnel often face intense and prolonged exposure to traumatic events, such as combat situations, witnessing violence, experiencing life-threatening situations, and dealing with the aftermath of warfare. These experiences can lead to significant emotional and psychological distress, making them more prone to developing PTSD.
  2. Multiple Deployments: Many military personnel undergo multiple deployments to combat zones. Each deployment increases the likelihood of exposure to traumatic events, which can accumulate and exacerbate the risk of developing PTSD. The repetitive nature of deployments can also contribute to prolonged stress and a sense of constant threat.
  3. High-Stress Environment: Military operations are carried out in high-stress environments characterized by unpredictable situations, constant vigilance, and the risk of injury or death. The stressors associated with military life, such as separation from family and loved ones, physical demands, and the burden of responsibility, can significantly impact mental health and increase the risk of developing PTSD.
  4. Loss and Grief: Military personnel often witness the loss of comrades and experience the grief associated with it. Coping with the death or injury of fellow soldiers can lead to intense feelings of guilt, survivor’s guilt, or unresolved trauma, all of which contribute to the development of PTSD.
  5. Lack of Control: In combat situations, individuals often face a loss of control over their surroundings and the ability to protect themselves or others. This sense of helplessness can be deeply distressing and traumatic, and it can contribute to the development of PTSD symptoms.
  6. Stigma and Barriers to Treatment: Despite increasing awareness and efforts to destigmatize mental health issues, there is still a prevalent stigma surrounding seeking help for mental health problems within the military culture. This stigma, along with concerns about career impact and a lack of accessible and appropriate mental health services, can prevent military personnel from seeking timely and adequate treatment for PTSD.

According to the following report published by the MOD, 1 in 1,000 serving members of the Armed Forces develop PTSD (0.1% of personnel).
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1083916/MH_Annual_Report_2021-22.pdf

The latest figure from the UK government (July 2022) state that there are 193,890 people serving in the UK Armed Forces, which therefore means that there are around 194 personnel with PTSD.

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