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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that develops after experiencing or witnessing tragic incidents, especially during war. It is usually associated with nightmares, anger, anxiety, and flashbacks. Although not all veterans with PTSD experience anxiety and anger, some have trouble managing anger due to their condition. This is because their body might trigger the release of fight or flight hormones in situations that others consider mere inconveniences. So, how can veterans cope with this situation? What is the connection between trauma, anger, and PTSD? This article seeks to answer these questions, shed light on the impact of traumatic experiences, and suggest coping strategies.
The Link Between Trauma and Anger
Anger is one of the common responses to trauma since it serves as a protective mechanism. The person experiencing a traumatic situation might develop a sense of helplessness, violation, and injustice, resulting in anger. Unfortunately, the person may direct the anger to the people, causing trauma to oneself or the world, which is why they need treatment. Unlike the normal anger everybody experiences, the irritation associated with veteran ptsd might be disproportionate to its cause and could arise from unrelated situations.
The Relationship Between Anger and PTSD
Anger is associated with rapid breathing, racing heartbeat, trouble sleeping, tense muscles, and difficulty concentrating. Even in a safe situation, the body stays in a state of alertness to respond to any danger. People with anger caused by PTSD tend to be rigid in their thought processes and interaction with others. For example, they want others to complete tasks in a certain way within a specific timeframe. Besides, they might respond erratically, verbally or physically, when anyone tries to question them about their actions. As a result, they disagree with co-workers, clients, supervisors, and customers, usually on minor issues.
Although employees who understand that anger may be associated with PTSD could accommodate veterans, those without this knowledge may not understand what causes the outbursts of anger. Anger affects veterans’ relationships with others and their ability to run a business or engage in meaningful employment. Besides, anger related to PTSD could lead to self-destructive behaviors, including self-harm and drug abuse. Some may turn to emotional numbness when they understand the source of their anger. However, emotional avoidance should not substitute treatment.
Managing Anger Associated with PTSD
Veterans and their families should recognize PTSD-related anger and take relevant measures to manage it. They should also apply proven anger management strategies such as mindfulness, breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, and seeking treatment to regain control against disproportionate anger. Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, can also help veterans with PTSD improve their response to irritation. How does this therapy work? It challenges the individual to identify and overcome thoughts leading to anger and provides coping mechanisms. Therefore, the veteran learns healthier ways to respond to triggers.
Social support and physical activities can help veterans manage anger associated with PTSD. Having friends, family, and support groups that understand the veteran encourages meaningful conversation. With social support, the veteran has a safe place to express themselves and receive empathy or validation. Physical exercise reduces stress and pent-up anger, leading to healthy relationships with friends, family, coworkers, and the community.
Although not all people with PTSD experience extreme anger, understanding that anger could be part of the condition can help find reliable coping strategies. Therefore, veterans and their families should understand the link between anger, trauma, and PTSD and learn various coping mechanisms. They should also consult psychological counselors and doctors for further assistance.