Handling PTSD during the holidays


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According to psychologist Michael Terman, as many as 60 million Americans suffer winter doldrums. Consequently, they often don’t find much to celebrate during the holiday season. Add PTSD to the mix – 11-20% of Veterans who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF) have PTSD in a given year – and the “season to be jolly” can be downright challenging.

Fortunately, VA’s National Center for PTSD offers online resources for identifying the condition and how to get help for yourself, a friend or a family member. And the Department of Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury have put together some low-tech suggestions and high-tech apps that can help you or a loved one better manage holiday stress.

Of course, sometimes it helps to talk with a professional. And the responders and staff at the Veterans Crisis Line at the Department of Veterans Affairs make sure that they are accessible at all times, including the holiday season. The recent HBO film about the VA crisis line features a sequence on Christmas Eve. The responders understand that PTSD and depression don’t take a holiday. If anything, they can become more intense at those times of year when people are expected to “make merry.”

Veterans and their loved ones can receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

  • Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1
  • Chat online
  • Or send a text message to 838255

For more information, visit https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/.

And if you’re interested in a job on the Crisis Line or supporting Veterans in many other ways, please visit VA Careers.

Author

Darren Sherrard

Comments

  1. Terry O'Donal    

    Also an issue around the Austin, TX area. I live just outside of the city limits in my little community and as such my neighborhood is not subject to fireworks restrictions so on New Years and 4th of July I have learned to just hunker down and grit my teeth until it’s over. Needless to say it is usually a sleepless night. I find that the majority of Americans have not served in any combat zones (urban gang wars don’t count) so have no consideration for veterans within their communities. All of the awareness publicized on the media has no affect on them. It’s all about self interest these days. When it gets really bad I call or email my vet counselor. They thank us for our service but it’s only a handshake and a nod, not any real appreciation or consideration.

  2. Dennis S. Sherman    

    I have the same problem here in San Antonio. The fireworks right at 12 midnight on New Years are not a problem because I know it is coming. However, there are already people setting them off unexpectedly each night. I have tried to get them to stop by asking nicely. They don’t get it and they don’t care. The police have to catch them in the act and that is not happening.

  3. John Wood    

    Unsuspected fireworks sounds like incoming. Scares the Hell out of me, and is naturally a huge trigger for those of us that have been on the receiving end of enemy fire. New Years Eve at 2030 hrs, my neighbor set of a 24 pack of those super loud mortars. I spotlighted him because in California those mortars, as well as plain ole firecrackers are illegal; That does not stop many law breakers from using them. Next day I let him know I am a Nam vet and it caused me to jump out of my skin. He just walked away and said nothing! Next time I am calling the cops because I am the commander of the Neighborhood Watch because it is that kind of neighborhood, and everyone else is too timid to take charge or confront these nair-do-wells. I hate New Years and July 4th because of fireworks!

    I hate the holidays and I am glad they are over!

  4. Ronald Christopher    

    Somebody who claims they have PTSD is driving down an interstate doing 80 miles an hour. Something triggers his alleged PTSD and he goes back to the scene that is bothering him. What happens to the car?

    1. Alan Von Heeder    

      From my perspective you are confusing the effects of PTSD and an LSD flashback. I used to relive events from Vietnam every night in my dreams, and not as visualized by Hollywood in the movies. I read about a drug that would assist in removing the dreams and have had some relief with them. Anxiety and depression during the day are a more difficult problem, although sometimes I know the triggers and how to avoid them at times I find new ones and have to deal with those when they arise. I have children and grandchildren but even so the Holidays are difficult and stressful at best. Torn between wanting to be alone or being around all the noise that young families create.
      I am not sure how to take two of your words in your post except to tell you that in order to under stand those who CLAIM to ALLEGEDLY suffer from PTSD you first could visit a vet center and ask if you could borrow some books on the subject they have and gain knowledge and understanding. At that point claim and alleged should be in your past postings. Thank you

  5. James k rodgers    

    I’m very thankful for the crisis hotline this 1st day of 2016,I myself was in a very bad state of mind suffering from PTSD, just talking to whomever on duty when I called allowed me to see this day,I’m a vet who can’t manage to muster up the time or energy to seek counseling or get the medication I need,so I find myself often at my lowest point, but this Christmas eve I was able to call the crisis line and just the calm voice I encountered was comforting enough to get me through, please pray for our vets and PTSD sufferers

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