How do you heal a wound of mind, body, and spirit?
Dave Morgan was just 20 years old when he was deployed to Vietnam as a Signals Operator in 1969. What started as a grand adventure quickly turned into a nightmare - one that has haunted Dave for the past 47 years.
As a result of his service, Dave developed severe posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but in those days, the term did not exist. Any time Dave visited a doctor he was diagnosed with severe depression, given medication, and sent on his way. There was no recognition of the extent of his suffering, no treatment options, no help at all. He was alone.
PTSD impacted every aspect of Dave’s life. He couldn’t sleep for more than two hours a night, he drank heavily, he would quickly lose his temper, or spiral back into depression and began contemplating suicide. Even daily tasks became difficult. Put yourself in Dave’s shoes…
- Imagine you’re stuck in traffic, and you can’t stop obsessing about the landmine that exploded under the lead vehicle in your convoy, killing two soldiers.
- Imagine being surrounded by people in a shopping centre, feeling suffocated, reliving the memory of being buried alive in a pit hole during heavy enemy fire.
- Imagine trying to perform a simple task at your work when even the slightest pressure could trigger uncontrollable shaking.
Even in the year 2013, when our researchers began looking into PTSD they found an alarming lack of information on the full impact of this condition. That’s why we launched the PTSD Initiative – to fill the gap in understanding on how PTSD can impact you physically, psychologically, and genetically. Dave and nearly 300 other Vietnam veterans selflessly as participants in this study. The results, published in the Medical Journal of Australia earlier this month, showed veterans with PTSD have:
- Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
- 2 to 3 times increased risk gastrointestinal problems, with bowel disorders common
- 3 times more like to suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea
- 4 times higher risk of fatty liver
If you add all this to severe psychological trauma the true impact of PTSD starts to be revealed. This is a severe condition with profound impact on your physical health.
The impact of PTSD is not exclusive to our soldiers andveterans. PTSD can affect anyone. Emergency service personnel, first-responders, and everyone who has witnessed or experienced a traumatic event (which it is estimated three out of four of us will at some point in our lives) are at risk of developing PTSD.
By supporting the GMRF Tax Appeal, you can fund research with real world benefit. We are putting the PTSD Initiative research into action through a national GP Education program, aimed at helping healthcare professionals better identify the signs and symptoms of PTSD. Imagine the difference this type of recognition and understanding could have made to Dave, and the one in four Vietnam veterans who developed posttraumatic stress across their life-time.
Please donate today to help progress vital medical research to improve the health of our veterans and the wider Australian community.