From ww1 onwards it looks like every war creates its share of veterans with PTSD but I never see anything mentioned about the period before that, especially in the middle age before the introduction of gunpowder. Killing other men with a sword must have been even more traumatic. Do we know if this was actually the case?
>Killing other men with a sword must have been even more traumatic.
[There’s room for debate.](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=we72zI7iOjk)
Inscriptions originating with the Assyrian Dynasty in Mesopotamia (1300-609 BC) record traumas suffered by soldiers. Herodotus observed that Epizelus, an Athenian spear carrier, suffered what appeared to be psychological problems following the Marathon Wars in 490 BC. Appian of Alexandria described a legion veteran called Cestius Macedonicus who, when his town was under threat of capture by Octavian, set fire to his house and burned himself within it. Plutarch’s Life of Marius speaks of Caius Marius’ behaviour who, when he found himself under severe stress towards the end of his life, suffering from night terrors, harassing dreams, excessive drinking and flashbacks to previous battles.
There were even attempts to head it off, although it was often viewed as mystical in nature. Romans had the Vestal Virgins bathe returning soldiersto cleanse them of ‘the corruption of war’ and first peoples used sweat lodges not only for cleansing, but because they allowed decompression time to talk of experiences.
So yes, PTSD is as old as civilisation at least.
Yeah, have you heard of “shell shock” ?
Very likely. From the Wikipedia article on PTSD:
*Aspects of PTSD in soldiers of ancient Assyria have been identified using written sources from 1300 to 600 BCE.* (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-traumatic_stress_disorder).
However, the definition and diagnosis of PTSD as we know it today only started in the mid 20th century. So people didn‘t look at those symptoms the same way we do it today and it‘s hard to remote-diagnose people from the past from written records. But let‘s say it like this: Even millennia ago, people in war developed psychological distress that matches the symptoms we associate with PTSD today.