Study Provides Hope For Veterans Struggling With PTSD Symptoms


While numerous studies have focused on understanding PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and helping veterans cope with the symptoms, little attention has been given to post-traumatic growth, until now.

A new study out of North Carolina State University has focused on the emotional growth that can occur after traumatic events.

Though some Department of Defense (DoD) training suggests individuals are either resilient or not, the North Carolina researchers discovered something different. They found that people can suffer from PTSD and still experience emotional growth owed to the traumatic events.

“In addition, growth can occur very quickly, or it can be a process that unfolds over years,” said lead investigator Jessica Morgan, Ph.D. candidate. “In other words, while recovering from trauma can be a painful and difficult ordeal, veterans and their families can have hope, and the DoD should pay attention to this field of study.”

The researcher’s conclusions were reached by surveying 197 veterans from all military branches. Almost 70 percent of those surveyed were male, and 72 percent were active duty. Participants relayed a traumatic event occurring within the previous three years, and answered questions designed to assess post-traumatic growth.

Analysis of the data revealed that veterans who experienced the most post-traumatic growth (about 21 percent) scored the highest in three categories: the degree which the traumatic event challenged their world view, the amount of time spent thinking about the event, and the rate of PTSD. The veterans reporting the least post-traumatic growth (27 percent) ranked last in these three categories.

The remaining 52 percent of participants experienced moderate short or long-term post-traumatic growth, with category scores falling between the high and low growth groups.

“One of the key points here is that there can be real benefit from having military veterans think about their traumatic experiences,” says study author and professor, Sarah Desmarais. "While it may be painful in the short term, it can contribute to their well-being in the long term. These findings also demonstrate that we need to do more research into post-traumatic growth, working with the veteran community,"

Source: Science Daily
Photo credit: U.S. Embassy / Vince Alongi

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