War and PTSD

(via EurekAlert) A study from Aarhus University has surveyed almost 800 Danish soldiers, about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Their findings seem to suggest that, for the most part, war isn't what causes PTSD.  For the most part, soldiers who come home with mental issues left for war with mental issues.

Around five percent of the soldiers in the survey proved to be different to those in the two groups above, and not in a positive sense. They were like the robust soldiers before going to the war zone, but their mental state deteriorated while they were there, and did not recover after their return home, says Dorthe Berntsen.

- We cannot rule out the possibility that they were exposed to different experiences than the robust group of soldiers in Afghanistan. But this is probably not the case. According to Dorthe Berntsen, this group of soldiers differ from the robust group in that there were more childhood traumas in their backgrounds.

I'm blogging about this because it's interesting, but also because it confirms what I've believed for a long time now:  that industrialized countries have a much more serious problem with mental health than we're letting on.  So much so, that a lot of the people who have issues they should be dealing with at home have to go to war and come back before people take seriously the fact that they may be less equipped to handle life than they otherwise could be.

Here's one of the symptom descriptions:

Dorthe Berntsen explains that PTSD sufferers experience among other symptoms involuntary intrusive recollections. These are very negative memories that force themselves into the consciousness, and they can be very disabling for the individual concerned. They may, for example, take the form of unpleasant flash-backs from the war that can cause mood changes, and can lead some individuals to lose confidence in themselves to a greater or lesser degree and to begin to dwell too much on their situation.

That sounds very familiar.  I know a lot of people who've described feeling like that.  I've felt like that.  I see references to that kind of feeling all the time online, and there are always a bunch of people saying, "Yes, that. Exactly.  I feel like that."

I actually had a comic in mind, to illustrate this.  I see it all the time.  It's a person wrapped in a blanket on the floor, and the text is something like "Sometimes at night I sit up and think about all the embarrassing things that have ever happened to me."  I couldn't find it, though.  But when I see it, there are always loads of comments with people agreeing, that the exact same thing happens to them.

For a long time, I thought that was just normal.  Then I met some people who were genuinely surprised at the idea that you might not always be in control of what you're thinking about.

I don't have much of a point here.  Just that I'm bothered that the idea there are people out there who need help, and they don't get any until after they go to war, thereby earning the cultural right to mention it.