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PTSD During the Holidays


 Veterans with PTSD may have a difficult time during the holidays. This can be for many different reasons.

  • Many veterans that suffer with PTSD have a trigger they associate with the holidays.

Thanksgiving and Christmas can be a difficult time for me. I remember being deployed to Iraq on Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2003. My squad was doing missions on both days. I was miles away from any friends and family and I was getting shot at. Many veterans that suffer with PTSD have a similar circumstance or trigger they associate with the holidays. 

  • A veteran with PTSD may also have survivors guilt during the holidays. Maybe a friend in the veterans’ unit was killed on deployment during the holidays. This may make it difficult to make it through the holidays.

 A veteran with PTSD may find it difficult joining in on the holiday celebrations. Maybe it’s the fact everyone else is happy and having a good time and the veteran is thinking about the incident that happened in the service. A veteran with PTSD may find it difficult to enjoy themselves because of this and this may cause the veteran to feel even more isolated.

 The holidays are filled with large crowds of people. Everyone is out shopping and everyone is gathering for parties, family get togethers, and holiday parties. I am a veteran with PTSD and I do not like large crowds of people. 

  • Veterans with PTSD tend to have more problems with alcohol than the general public. A lot of holidays parties are centered around alcohol. 

So how do us veterans with PTSD survive the holiday season?

  1. Know your triggers. Be aware of what situations, places, and events trigger you. Write those down and prepare yourself for those things. 
  2. Develop a coping strategy. My coping strategy as veteran with PTSD for the holidays is to avoid the places with large crowds. If I feel overwhelmed I go to a quite room by myself, I pray to God for strength, and I take some deep breaths. Whatever your coping strategy is I encourage to write it down and put it into the practice on holidays.
  3. Create a support network. Many veterans that suffer with PTSD don’t like to open up and talk about what is going on in their lives. Civilians just don’t seem to understand the struggle us veterans with PTSD face during the holidays. Whoever it is, whether it be a military friend, spouse, family, or friend find someone to talk to.

If you are having a real hard time during the holidays and are contemplating suicide please don’t do it. Reach out to your support system for help.

You can also contact the veterans crisis line at (800) 273-8255.

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