Artigo Científico
Colonial War: When the Years Rekindle the Suffering — A Pilot Study
Reports, 4(2), 10

Joana P. Becker, Manuel João Quartilho 



For more than 150 years, traumatic stress has been a recurrent topic of medical and psychological studies, in which war-related experiences remain to be addressed. Although veterans have been considered a high-risk group for the development of stress-related diseases, the impact of aging on the trauma process is an unexplored field. This study aimed to analyze the aging-related factors that may influence the emergence of traumatic stress symptoms in war veterans. The clinical data of 29 Colonial War Portuguese veterans were verified in order to identify the main diagnoses, and the frequency of health service use. Through thematic analysis of the transcripts of 10 interviews with veterans diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the main symptoms and factors that led them to mental health services were identified. In addition, a literature review on mental health and psychological trauma was conducted to provide an overview of the knowledge on this topic. Aging seems to be an opportunity to face conflicts which have been kept hidden throughout veterans’ lives. Social stigmatization and the non-recognition of traumatic stress as a disease influenced the Portuguese veterans’ silence, which could be broken with the aging process. Retirement, physical illness, death of close friends or family members, and loss of autonomy may contribute to the onset of trauma-related symptoms.

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