Traumatic Brain Injuries and PTSD Among Veterans

People who serve in the military frequently face many risks. Depending on their role, they may end up in hazardous situations with an increased likelihood of injury or fatality. The heightened chance of suffering a mild or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) or developing PTSD is of particular concern. 

According to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC), doctors diagnosed nearly 414,000 TBIs in service members between 2000 and late 2019. While most TBIs are mild, they can still severely affect the individual’s behavior and health, especially if the affected individual doesn’t receive the appropriate treatment. 

How a Military TBI Happens

Any time someone suffers a jolt or blow to the head, they’re at risk of developing a TBI. Many TBIs happen due to falls, car accidents, or when playing a contact sport. Military service members become more vulnerable when they visit combat zones or undergo certain types of training.

Many times, a service member’s TBI happens after an explosion. Standing or sitting too close to a blast can jolt the brain. The chance of injury increases if the individual suffers a physical blow to the head.

Diagnosing a TBI isn’t always easy. In cases where the injury is mild, it may not appear on a CT scan. In such cases, a person may begin to exhibit symptoms similar to those of PTSD.

How a TBI Affects Quality of Life

The symptoms of a TBI can have a drastic impact on a veteran’s quality of life. Severe brain injuries can result in brain death, difficulties with attention or concentration, and problems with processing speed. At times, the victim may appear confused. 

Other symptoms associated with a TBI include:

  • New sleeping disorders
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Increased aggression
  • Irritability
  • Impulsiveness
  • Lack of motivation 
  • Sensitivities to sound
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Seizures

Service members who suffer from a TBI or PTSD may need help readjusting to life after the military. Their symptoms can make it challenging to readjust to civilian life, hold a regular job, or interact appropriately with friends and family. 

A Note About CTE

Service members who suffer multiple mild or moderate TBIs while on duty are at increased risk of developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE develops due to repeated hits or jolts to the head. Football players and military service members are the individuals most likely to develop a CTE.

Often, symptoms of CTE remain latent for years or even decades. Over time symptoms begin to progress. Usually, the symptoms start with memory loss or confusion before developing into impaired judgment or dementia. Individuals with CTE may show problems with impulse control or paranoia.

Serene Behavioral Health Can Help

At Serene Behavioral Health in Orange County, California, we have a dedicated treatment program for veterans suffering from TBIs and PTSD from their time in the military. Our program offers fully customizable treatment plans to help veterans work through their problems and adapt to civilian life. We use a variety of protocols to assist veterans, including trauma-informed treatment, CBT, DBT, motivational interviewing, and individual and group therapy. 

To learn more about our services, contact Serene Behavioral Health today.

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