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Veteran, psychiatrist explain PTSD

Different triggers contribute to PTSD

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - It's a disorder often associated with combat, but post traumatic stress disorder can be triggered my multiple different factors.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Willis Jay Magee served for 30 years. He said different sounds and different smells take his mind back to combat.

"When you come home, there's no switch," he said. "There's no switch to say, 'Go back to your old normal, your new normal doesn't apply.'"

Magee suffers from what he said is a mild form of PTSD. But the disorder isn't exclusive to combat.

"For example, a person in a motor vehicle accident, a person who is assaulted either physically or emotionally, a person who's been in natural disaster such as a hurricane or fire or avalanche, those types of things," Memorial Hospital psychiatrist Jeff Peck said.

Peck said symptoms like nightmares, vigilance, flashbacks or avoidance usually have to go on for a month for it to be diagnosed as PTSD. He said the symptoms may not appear immediately after a traumatic event, but they usually do within three months. He said an evaluation and treatment are key.

Magee gets the support he needs by leading Point Man Ministries in Colorado Springs. The group helps veterans cope.

"If you sit alone, you isolate, you drink, you self-medicate, you're never going to get better," he said. "You've got to get outside of that, get outside of yourself."

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