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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop after experiencing events that create fear, helplessness or horror, such as a threat to life or physical integrity. Seeing another person in a life-threatening situation can also trigger PTSD. The National Center for PTSD reports 7 in 100 (7%) of veterans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives.

Combat situations are not the only cause of trauma. Motor vehicle accidents, people’s experience during natural disasters and other traumatic situations can also lead to PTSD. Not everyone exposed to these types of trauma develops PTSD; however, those who do may re-experience the traumatic event as disturbing recollections, images, thoughts, dreams, dissociate flashbacks, or intense reactions to situations that resemble an aspect of the traumatic event. Other less specific symptoms may also be present, such as increased arousal and startle response, difficulty sleeping, irritability, and poor concentration. Many times there is guilt, coexisting depression and panic disorder. Marital problems, and alcohol and chemical dependencies can also result from PTSD.

Getting help for PTSD

Active duty service members must always get a referral from their primary care manager for treatment of PTSD. All other beneficiaries, such as active duty family members, retirees and their family members can obtain care through their outpatient mental health benefit and other mental health services. Be sure to check out the mental health approval requirements on the Prior Authorization, Referral and Benefit Tool when seeking mental health care.

Patients diagnosed with PTSD are eligible for outpatient services such as individual or group psychotherapy, crisis intervention, collateral visits and family therapy. Other benefits may include psychological testing, medication management, substance abuse treatment, and more.

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