Coping with Stress and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the name for what was historically known as ‘battle fatigue’ or ‘shell shock’, and can affect anyone who has experienced something traumatic or disturbing. RAF personnel may be affected by some degree of stress after an operation. There is no way to know who will be affected, and it is not necessarily those that had the most distressing experiences that may experience any of the following symptoms:

• Flashbacks and nightmares.
• Depression, confusion or inability to make simple decisions.
• Trouble sleeping.
• Irritability and a quick temper.
• Anger at life in general.
• Hyper-alertness, anxiety or panic attacks.
• Feeling of isolation or being ‘the only one feeling like this’.
• Using excess alcohol or drugs to ‘forget’ it.
• Feeling suicidal.

If you recognise any of these in yourself or your returning loved one, medical advice should be sought as soon as possible.

Any condition won’t usually go away without treatment, so early medical intervention is vital. If you notice a change in your partner, seek support – you can always discuss it with confidence with a doctor, or a member of welfare services.

For you or your family your GP should be the first port of call for help with family stress and anxiety problems during or after the deployment.

There are organisations that are out there to help support PTSD suffers so please do not suffer in silence. The RAF Benevolent Fund is just one organisation who really can help.

Individual Support Service

The RAF Benevolent Fund has set up an Individual Support Service run by specially-trained staff and it provides support and advice to vulnerable, isolated or bereaved members of the RAF family. To find out more about this service call 0800 169 2942 or email rafsupport@anxietyuk.org.uk

Finally please keep this information at the back of your mind, symptoms can sometimes take years or even decades to appear. The key point is that, once medically diagnosed, the condition is treatable.

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