It is estimated that up to 10 million men in the United States may be suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD can manifest itself in a variety of ways and can take a dramatic toll on an individual’s sense of well-being.
Men with PTSD often experience more difficulty controlling their anger and regulating their mood, compared to women with PTSD. They are also more prone to resort to substance abuse and to withdraw from family and friends than women are.
In this post, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for PTSD in men. We will also explore how men can seek assistance if they believe they are struggling with this mental health disorder.
Symptoms and signs of PTSD in men
Reoccurring memories or flashbacks of a traumatic event
Men suffering from PTSD may experience vivid, intrusive, and distressing recollections of the traumatic incident. This can cause feelings of helplessness, fear, horror and intense distress.
Avoiding reminiscence or places associated with the trauma
Men with PTSD may attempt to avoid all reminders or thoughts related to the event in order to block out any pain from resurfacing. This can include avoiding certain people, conversations or activities that could trigger the person’s negative emotions.
Feeling emotionally numb, detached or disconnected from others
Emotional numbness is often one of the primary signs of PTSD caused by extreme fear and trauma. A person may feel separated from their own emotions and unable to connect with others in meaningful ways.
Negative changes in mood or outlook such as depression, guilt and anxiety
Someone with PTSD might experience difficulty making decisions, an inability to experience pleasure normally felt before the trauma occurred, and extreme guilt for seemingly no reason at all.
They may also suffer from increased levels of anxiousness which can manifest itself in physical symptoms like a racing heart rate and excessive sweating.
Memory problems and difficulty concentrating
It’s common for men suffering from PTSD to have difficulties remembering recent events as well as recalling details about the traumatic incident that occurred long ago.
Concentration levels decrease making it difficult for them to focus on tasks at hand which can lead to further frustration due to the lack of accomplishment they feel each day.
Irritability, outbursts of anger, and self-destructive behavior
These are very common symptoms associated with PTSD in men, as sufferers tend to act out as a way of attempting to cope with their emotions stemming from the trauma they endured in some capacity.
They may lash out verbally or physically towards themselves or others when feeling overwhelmed by their situation without having any control over their behavior at times due to their distressful state of mind they remain in constantly due to their disorder.
Easily startled, hypervigilance and insomnia
Men who suffer from PTSD often struggle with getting enough restful sleep each night due too feeling constantly alert even when there is not immediate danger present around them.
Substance abuse to cope with the symptoms
Some men try to manage their PTSD symptoms through self-medication, either via alcohol consumption or illicit drugs use.
This often creates an even bigger issue known as dual diagnosis, where mental health problems combined with substance abuse exacerbate an already complex problem.
Getting a PTSD Diagnosis
In order to get a PTSD diagnosis a mental health professional must confirm that you’ve experienced the following symptoms for at least a month:
At least one intrusive or re-experiencing symptom. This includes flashbacks, reliving the traumatic events, bad dreams, or persistent thoughts about the trauma.
At least one avoidance behavior where you take steps to avoid potential triggers that could remind you of the traumatic event. This includes changing your daily routine, the places you visit or the people you communicate with.
At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms, such as frequently feeling on edge or hypervigilant, and having trouble managing your day-to-day tasks.
At least two cognition and mood symptoms. You might have strong feelings of guilt or blame yourself for what happened, lose interest in activities that you used to enjoy or be unable to remember significant details about the traumatic event.
Treatment and Support
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is one of the most recommended treatments for PTSD as it helps to identify faulty thinking and beliefs that have been developed by struggling with the disorder, as well as challenging them through developing coping skills for managing stress and anxiety.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR helps patients work through trauma by having them focus on a traumatic memory while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation such as nodding of the head or eye movements.
Exposure Therapy: This technique involves exposing the person to their fear or trauma in a controlled environment in order to reduce their fear response and help process the trauma memory better.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): DBT is an evidence-based treatment technique used to treat multiple mental health issues, including PTSD. It teaches individuals how to understand and accept their emotions, regulate their behavior, develop coping strategies, and build healthy relationships with others.
Pharmacotherapy: Depending on an individual’s symptoms, certain medications may be prescribed such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications. This medications aim to reduce PTSD symptoms such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, nightmares and flashbacks.
Relaxation Techniques: Relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises can be extremely helpful for those struggling with PTSD due to its calming effect on both the body and mind. This reduces levels of physical tension created when living with this condition.
Final Thoughts on PTSD in Men
PTSD in men is a complex issue that requires specialized treatment to manage it effectively.
Men who are struggling with PTSD should seek help from trained mental health professionals who can provide evidence-based therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy, as well as medications to reduce symptoms and facilitate healing.
With adequate treatment and support from family, friends, and professional counselors, these men can overcome the challenges associated with PTSD and lead a more fulfilling life.