How to Find the Right Veteran Rehab Programme for PTSD

Introduction

Mental Health

Life in the military certainly isn’t easy. For soldiers who are actively deployed to conflict zones, death is an unfortunate and unavoidable reality. After returning home from military conflicts, soldiers may experience PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) – which can occur after a person has experienced trauma of some kind, and combat stress is a very common catalyst for the condition, as one might expect.

The symptoms of PTSD manifest in many ways. A symptom that is common with most sufferers is recurring nightmares, with other symptoms including vivid flashbacks, nausea, pain, sweating, and intrusive thoughts or images.

If you have recently returned from military service and are suffering from PTSD, then treatment is essential. The sooner you enter into a rehabilitation (rehab) programme, the faster you can recover and acclimate back to civilian life. Selecting a rehab programme should not be rushed, however.

Below we will discuss how you can find the rehab programme that is right for treating your PTSD.

Individualised Treatment

Nobody’s experiences in the military are the same, everybody has their own subjective perspective. Some combat veterans acclimate back to civilian life very well, while others do not. If you are considering signing up for a specialised rehab programme for veterans, then the first thing that you should do is to check if the clinic you are applying for treatment in offers individualised treatment plans. In order to successfully recover from your trauma, you need a treatment plan that has been tailored to your own personal experiences/circumstances.

Addressing Other Issues

Research suggests that approximately 80% of people with PTSD have other co-occurring mental health disorders. If it transpires that you have other mental health issues, then you need to receive treatment for them as well. Even if your PTSD is addressed, your other mental health issues could still reduce your quality of life. With this in mind, you may want to find a clinic that offers additional treatment services and has mental health professionals that specialise in different areas of psychiatry and psychology on hand to help. A rehab programme that resolves to get to the bottom of all of your mental health issues is more likely to aid your recovery.

Highly Qualified Staff

The quality of the staff present during your treatment will have a significant impact on whether or not it is successful. The programme that you select should have qualified therapists, for example, who have received extensive training and are able to diagnose and treat a broad range of different mental health disorders. Therapy is a very large part of treatment for PTSD. If the therapists working with you are not experienced enough, then their work will have a less meaningful impact. Most rehab centres will publish information about their resident therapists (and other mental professionals) on their websites.

Different Options

When most people think of rehab, they think of group therapy (with others with similar problems). If group therapy does not appeal to you, however, then you should find a clinic that offers individualised services – many clinics will offer one-to-one and group sessions. Therapy can also sometimes involve partners and families.

Another thing that is worth considering is whether or not you want to stay in rehab or go home, with various options outlined below:

  • Outpatient treatment refers to non-residential treatment, in which the patient spends structured time in treatment during the day or evening and returns home each night. Can include:
    • Standard outpatient treatment.
    • Intensive outpatient programmes (IOPs).
    • Partial hospitalisation programmes (PHPs).
  • Inpatient treatment: During inpatient treatment, you will stay in a hospital/clinic on a residential basis to receive in-depth support for your mental health challenges.
  • Mixed treatment: A combination of the above.
    • Can also include blended care which is a combination of online and face-to-face therapy.

Rehab Activities

All rehab programmes advocate for therapeutic activities in the treatment of PTSD – like yoga, meditation, and controlled breathing exercises – and some also encourage patients to participate in sports (such as like basketball, football, or cricket). Most rehab centres have gyms, which patients can may also use in their spare time – with research suggesting that exercise can be very good for one’s mental health. Therapeutic activities like yoga and meditation can be very calmative, which makes them a great choice for people suffering from PTSD.

Aftercare Treatment

Lastly, it is important that you find a rehab centre that offers aftercare treatment. Just because you have addressed and resolved your issues in rehab does not mean that negative symptoms will not manifest in the future. PTSD can take a long time to treat/recover from. And, whilst rehab will help to address the bulk of your issues, some may remain afterwards. An aftercare service will help you with returning to a ‘normal’ life, and can involve (for example) meeting with a therapist once a week, workshops, and vocational training opportunities.

Summary

PTSD can be caused by many things, with military service being a common trigger for the condition. If you are suffering from PTSD, then it is essential that you seek out treatment. Rehab is a great place to get treated, although you need to find the centre that is optimal for you.

With a focus on managing symptoms, identifying triggers, overcoming fears, developing communication skills, and establishing healthy social norms, mental health treatment aims to help you learn to thrive outside the therapeutic environment.

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