Fall of Afghanistan can trigger PTSD in veterans

Published: Sep. 6, 2021 at 9:07 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - For those who served in America’s longest war, it can be extremely difficult to watch the fall of Afghanistan.

Lisa Dorn, a mental health therapist at Marshfield Clinic said the events can trigger symptoms in those dealing with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“They were there and they experienced very traumatic events, they witnessed very traumatic events so seeing these things happening in a place where they spent a lot of time and made a lot of connections and really put their heart and soul into helping the people in Afghanistan, this can be very triggering and devastating,” Dorn said.

Symptoms of PTSD can range from having nightmares and flashbacks, startled responses, constant worrying or anxiety to physical symptoms like stomach aches, feeling shaky, a change in appetite or headaches.

Dorn encourages anyone struggling with PTSD get professional help.

“I think many people are taught to handle it on their own. There is still a stigma surrounding mental health issues particularly with military personnel,” she said it can be helpful for veterans to seek out a counselor with a military background.

It is also important to check in on fellow veterans and encourage friends and family to seek help.

If people struggle with the media coverage, Dorn recommends reading news rather than watching or listening to it.

“Images can be difficult to get out of your minds,” Dorn said.

Dorn said PTSD is developed after a traumatic event that overwhelms a person’s ability to process and cope with what happened and some people could be struggling without even knowing it.

“Connecting with friends and family is important because a lot of times they are the ones who say they notice something different you don’t seem like yourself,” she explained.

The 20th commemoration of 9/11 on Saturday is also a concern, even for those not directly impacted by the attacks.

“The anniversary of 9/11 could absolutely trigger symptoms of PTSD in people because you are seeing these horrible images on the news and it brings up feelings of not being safe,” Dorn said. “Even if that is not the specific incident that caused your PTSD to begin with, that can trigger feelings of not being safe from other traumatic events that happened in your life so try and limit exposure to those really traumatic images.”

Veterans in need of help can contact the crisis line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. Veterans looking to get help overcoming PTSD can click here.

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