veteran struggling with ptsd and daytime fears

Unexpected daytime fears result from traumatic experiences and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans and military service members. Veterans struggling with PTSD can experience individual daytime fears, although specific situations, things, and places can trigger a veteran. Drug and alcohol rehab centers that cater to veterans with PTSD offer trauma-informed programs and therapies. With the fundamental treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), veterans can more easily manage unexpected daytime fears.

What is Daytime Fear for Veterans?

Daytime fear for veterans can manifest in various ways, often due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic experiences from military service. While each individual has unique fears, some common daytime fears veterans experience are crowded places, loud noises, trauma triggers, and hypervigilance.

Hypervigilance and Hyperarousal

One unexpected daytime fear some veterans may experience is hypervigilance or hyperarousal. Hypervigilance is a state of increased alertness and sensitivity to potential environmental threats. Veterans are usually on high alert and constantly scanning their surroundings for signs of danger. Hypervigilant people may need to be prepared for danger, causing persistent anxiety and fear during daytime activities. Hypervigilance is a common symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and can persist even after returning from active duty. This heightened arousal can make relaxing and feeling safe challenging, even in seemingly calm situations. They may experience a startled response to loud or sudden noises, a heightened sense of danger, or feel constantly on edge.

The fear experienced during the daytime for veterans with hypervigilance can be unpredictable and overwhelming. Everyday activities that most people take for granted, such as going to crowded places or driving in traffic, can trigger anxiety for veterans. This fear stems from the lingering effects of combat experiences and the brain’s attempts to remain constantly vigilant for danger.

Examples of Veterans’ Daytime Fears

Veterans with PTSD may feel uneasy or overwhelmed in crowded areas or public spaces. The presence of many people, noise, and potential triggers can heighten their anxiety and make them feel vulnerable. Startled responses can be intensified for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Loud or sudden noises, such as fireworks, car backfires, or even a slamming door, can trigger a trauma response, leading to heightened anxiety or flashbacks to the event.

Some veterans may experience fear and anxiety while driving in a car or traveling by plane. These daytime fears can stem from a combination of factors, including a lack of control, potential dangers on the road or in the air, or memories of combat-related incidents involving vehicles. Sensory cues are some of the most common triggers for those with PTSD, including certain sights, sounds, smells, or other cues that serve as reminders of past trauma. Sensory triggers can evoke fear, anxiety, and distress during the day, as veterans may correlate them with their original traumatic experience. Some veterans experience social anxiety and fear or discomfort in social situations. PTSD causes individuals to have difficulties trusting others, feel isolated, or have concerns about being misunderstood or judged. These fears can make it challenging to engage in day-to-day social interactions.

Addressing Daytime Fears in Veterans in Drug Rehab

Trauma-informed care in drug and alcohol rehab takes a compassionate and supportive approach to addressing and treating veterans with daytime fears. Drug rehab centers treat veterans with daytime fears through an individualized program that specializes in treating those with trauma and post-traumatic disorder (PTSD). Addiction specialists understand veterans’ unique challenges and their impact on their mental and physical health. Drug rehab centers commonly offer dual-diagnosis treatment programs to treat veterans with PTSD and substance use disorders (SUDs). When someone has more than one mental health disorder at a time, this is known as a dual diagnosis or a co-occurring disorder. Co-occurring mental health issues in veterans are prevalent due to the traumatic experiences faced in military service and the lasting effects on their mental and emotional health.

Addressing daytime fears in drug rehab requires a comprehensive, holistic approach combining trauma-informed care and addiction treatment services.

Assessing Trauma History

Trauma screenings and assessments in drug rehab help to identify the specifics of someone’s history and understand the impact it’s had on them thus far. Trauma therapists begin by thoroughly assessing veterans’ history of trauma and how it’s contributing to their PTSD and daytime fears. This helps therapists devise an individualized treatment plan for patients and ensure treatment services are tailored to their needs.

Providing a Safe and Structured Environment

A safe and structured environment to receive treatment is essential to the recovery process. Establishing clear routines and expectations helps ensure that the surroundings within the drug rehab facility are conducive to healing. An atmosphere of trust and safety can help veterans feel calmer and more comfortable, which helps minimize triggers and facilitate their healing process. Creating support groups tailored to veterans dealing with daytime fears and PTSD creates a sense of empathy among struggling veterans. Group therapy is a safe space for veterans to share personal experiences, build connections, and learn from other veterans facing similar challenges.

Open communication in rehab treatment helps veterans express their fears and concerns openly without judgment. Feeling understood and validated gives veterans the comfort to open up about their traumas and fears.

Trauma-Informed Therapy

Drug rehab centers incorporate trauma-focused therapies, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), or Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy for PTSD. Evidence-based therapies help veterans gradually process and heal from past traumas to reduce the intensity of triggers and daytime fears. A treatment center with trained trauma therapists and trauma-informed care is essential for meeting the needs of veterans with PTSD.

Using Cognitive-Behavioral Strategies

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in drug and alcohol rehab teaches coping strategies and cognitive-behavioral techniques to manage daytime fears. Challenging negative thought patterns associated with trauma aims to help recognize and replace negative beliefs with more balanced thoughts. Implementing cognitive behavioral strategies helps to reduce the distressing thoughts associated with the traumatic event. CBT techniques may include grounding, mindfulness, and relaxation exercises to reduce cognitive distortions and PTSD symptoms.

Holistic Approach

Addiction treatment centers with a holistic approach to drug and alcohol rehab prioritize healing the individual—mind, body, and soul. Holistic therapies include yoga, meditation, adventure therapy, art therapy, and fitness therapy to promote relaxation and self-care for veterans. Holistic approaches can help reduce stress and anxiety in veterans with PTSD, contributing to their overall health and well-being.

Aftercare Planning

Following treatment for veterans with PTSD, developing a comprehensive aftercare plan provides ongoing support once their drug rehab program is complete. Aftercare support connects individuals with community resources, veteran support services, and mental health professionals specializing in trauma and PTSD. Addressing daytime fears in veterans in drug rehab requires a personalized, trauma-informed approach to ensure they receive the necessary treatment and care for their PTSD. Addiction treatment with trauma-focused care helps veterans manage daytime fears, heal from past trauma, and achieve lasting recovery.




  • National Library of Medicine, 2016. PTSD Treatment for Veterans: What’s Working, What’s New, and What’s Next.
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Prolonged Exposure (PE) for PTSD.
  • American Psychological Association, 2017. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).