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Lack of compassion fuels troubles for some with PTSD

Courtesy of MCT

Some students who come from military backgrounds and then decide to pursue a college education can suffer from the somewhat common disorder known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can occur after someone has experienced a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death.

Roger Buck, the interim director of the Counseling Center at Hocking College, spoke at the event “Understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” held at the Ohio Union on Jan. 19. Buck said one of the biggest problems for students with PTSD is that when coming back from the military culture, they didn’t fit well with the college crowd.

“These veterans are older individuals, have more life experience and leadership,” Buck said. “Veterans with PTSD feel disrespected by the childish behavior of traditional teenage students.”

Buck said for many veterans with PTSD, there is a lack of respect by faculty and staff on campus for the sacrifices of veteran friends killed and injured. Buck said the “non-compassionate” attitude of staff members toward veterans suffering from PTSD does not help solve the problem.

“These guys have seen horrible events, smelled horrible stuff and experienced extreme human emotions,” Buck said. “People need to be more understanding.”

In addition to a change in attitude from professors and faculty, one professor suggested that the best solution to PTSD-related complications is to seek medical treatment.

“There are thousands of soldiers that suffer from PTSD,” said Joseph DeCola, director of clinical services at OSU’s Anxiety and Stress Disorders Clinic.

DeCola suggested students who suffer from PTSD seek psychiatric therapy.

“No one wants to go to treatment, but it works well,” DeCola said. “They are not going to get better by themselves. It’s just like going to the gym: If you don’t work out, you’re not going to get stronger.”

DeCola said people with PTSD can suffer a snowball-effect if they don’t get treatment, which causes nightmares, depressions and flashbacks until it becomes uncontrollable.

DeCola said medication can also help, depending on the patient.

“Medication is important as well, as some patients need to take medicine while others need to go to therapy,” DeCola said.

Christopher Seitler, vice president of PTSD Survivors of America, said medication is a double-edged sword.

“We had a discussion about this in our group conversation the other day,” Seitler said. “It’s an endless trial and error debate, people under medication take seven to eight pills a day.”

Seitler said talking to others, in a group-therapy setting, can be more beneficial than medicine. He said many veterans share the same experiences, and talking about things can be helpful.

Exposure treatment, which involves exposing the patient to a controlled environment that triggers that trauma, is another option DeCola mentioned.

“Exposure treatment works well for moods and anxiety,” DeCola said. “Using exposure treatment, the patients face the things they’re afraid off.”

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