Military Bootcamp – it’s all about pushing your body physically to the limit and a bunch of mental challenges that keep you going and responding under extreme conditions and fatigue. Push-ups, pull-ups, and miles of running in combat boots humping your pack uphill.
When you workout, the results from the physical side of military life is easy to see. You do dumbbell curls and your bicep grows; you bench press and your pecs grow; you run enough and it starts to get easier. After a while you feel physically fit for deployment.
But how do you prepare for the mental side of deployment?
This isn’t just about being dropped on foreign soil miles from family and homemade apple pie. This is about the unexpected smells, sights and sounds of war.
Are you ready for the smell of death, burning flesh, or watching the guys you trained with be caught in the line of fire?
Probably not…most soldiers aren’t no matter how well-trained they are.
Military training teaches you to be tough, be smart, and respond to every threat that enters your sights. It’s about survival. It’s about tactics. And it’s about getting you and your unit home safely.
You are trained to confront and respond to these situations and after a while you do them on auto-pilot. That’s just how it’s supposed to work and most soldiers enter and exit military service with barely a scratch.
Yet for many soldiers who come home, part of them remains in the desert. When they return to familiar ground and that smell of apple pie something is different. Luckily, we are learning more and more about PTSD and more and more families are ready to deal with the effects of PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Why Do Soldiers Respond Differently to PTSD?
In the book, “Surviving Survival” by Laurence Gonzales, the author write about the story of survivors. Not just the part about how they survived the traumatic event: getting bit by a shark, shot by their husband, or attacked by an alligator. He talks about how they and their brain dealt with the aftermath of the trauma.
How did they “survive” the survival?
Some struggled…others thrived. But they all needed to learn to live in a new way, with a new reality, after the event.
Everyday we learn more about our brain. It’s really not clear why one two soldiers who experience the same event can have a different response to that event. Some experience PTSD, others don’t.
New PTSD Therapies
Let’s look at an example from Master Sgt. Christopher Stowe.
In a recent article in the Marine Corps Times, he said that he knew it was time for a new approach when, “A pencil would roll off the table and I would jump into a tirade…”
Self-medicating through deployment was no longer working and the panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, and loss of appetite were taking its toll on his family.
The treatment Stowe sought form the Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune where 200 patients have been treated since 2008 is known as EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.
Using eye movement, vibrations and tones the therapy focuses on trying to stimulate and kind of re-set the brain so it can cope with life post-trauma.
It’s not meant to simply put a band-aid over the event. You’re not going to forget what happened to trigger PTSD; however, you can teach your brain a different and healthier way to respond to the triggers.
Nutritional Support for Better Brain Health
There is no pill that’s going to take away brain injury or brain trauma. However, there is growing evidence that certain dietary supplements contain ingredients that promote a healthy brain.
In the Military Grade Nutritionals line, this is found in the Navy Seal Formula. We’ve talked about PTSD and cognitive deterioration in NFL players who have suffered concussions in other articles on this site. And, we have also cited the research surrounding Siberian Ginseng, Gingko Biloba, and brain health.
You can read more about that in these articles:
The NFL, Concussions and Brain Damage
Benefits of Gingko Biloba
Dietary Supplement Benefit for Head Trauma from Sports or Combat Blasts
Brain trauma and PTSD are not to be taken lightly. As we’ve seen in NFL players, the symptoms from brain trauma, or concussions, may not show up for years…even decades. However, once they do show up it takes its toll on both the guy suffering and those closest to them.
It’s hard for your spouse to understand why the sound of a pencil rolling off the table sets you off. It’s hard for your kids to understand why all you want to do it watch TV, drink, or just be gone.
You may know that something is just not right. And because you are a warrior, you’re proud, and you’re used to being the one in charge…you just want to deal with it on your own, in your own way.
But muscling through it doesn’t always work. Most guys try to do what’s familiar thinking that if they train a little harder, or get back out there where things make sense, then your family will be spared your mood swings.
But that’s no way to live, right?
And luckily with advancing technologies for recognizing and treating PTSD, and nutritional studies that further explore the connection between supplements and mental health, you don’t have to just “deal” with PTSD.
You can handle it, with a little help.
EMDR is recognized by the Defense Department as an evidence-based treatment for PTSD. They don’t know why it works, but it has worked for many that have sought treatment.
To read more about Stowe and his PTSD treatment experience with EMDR, click here: http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2012/11/marine-emdr-ptsd-112612/