Indicators of Possible Trouble

If you are worried about your own experience and are reading this, then the first thing to notice is that we have listed these problems because they are so common they are normal. Although they can be very distressing, and can even make you wonder if you are “losing it,” in fact they are not signs of mental illness. They are typical reactions to deployment to a war zone. They are the adaptive effects of training and experience.

Now back in civilian life, even if only for a year or less, these signs of possible trouble are also an opportunity to put your experience in perspective, to regroup, and to find a way to feel more at home with family and friends.

  • Irritability, jumpiness
  • Anger easily and “blow up” at loved ones or friends
  • Feeling hyper-alert, needing to be careful, on the watch for danger
  • Feeling emotionally flat, uninvolved with people, distant
  • Feeling you can’t relate to life around you or to the concerns of your family or friends in the way you used to
  • Difficulty concentrating, paying attention, poor memory
  • Difficulty sleeping, nightmares
  • Episodes of tearfulness for no apparent reason
  • Feelings that people at home “don’t get it” and you can’t really explain it to them
  • Feelings of not fitting in
  • Finding yourself escaping into TV, the internet, video games
  • Increased use of alcohol, drugs
  • Feelings of sadness or guilt


Did you know that husbands and wives tend to experience the same problems after deployment? The person who stayed at home also might feel numb, detached, irritable, anxious, depressed, unable to communicate, and tempted to drink, or take anger out on others. So, perhaps you notice these signs of possible trouble:

  • Feeling overwhelmed or angry at being left with increased responsibilities
  • Although burdened, feeling that you should not complain because your troubles are minor compared to being in the war zone
  • The strain and worry about a deployed loved one is getting to you
  • Feeling alone or lost with no one to talk to and nowhere to turn
  • Feeling tempted to turn away from your marriage
  • Noticing that you and the returning family member seem nervous, distant or awkward with each other
  • Feeling hurt and resentful that the returning family member isn’t as involved with you and the family as before deployment
  • Noticing behavioral changes in the kids: anger, behavior problems at school, learning problems, physical symptoms (stomach aches, headaches), sleep troubles, either clinging or rejecting the returned parent.

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