This was written to a fellow combat vet who is new to PTSD therapy.
There was much more to this therapy than making a conscious decison to "bury" the warrior in us and following through as best we could with that. We did relaxation therapy, recreational therapy, desensitization therapy, rap sessions full of our personal war stories--expressed with anger, courage, fear, outrage, tears, shame, guilt, fear, helplessness, anger, shouting, trembling, hopelessness, fear, tears, determination, courage, heroism, fear--you get the picture. In short, we were urged and helped (facilitated) to ease our way into the full range of emotions combat had blunted for us, and we did this while learning to share our PTSD causing experiences--a very difficult thing for most of us to do, both emotionally and rationally.
We had the care and direction of Doctoral level therapists, though. I don't recommend this kind of therapy in a lay environment. It is possible to open psycholigical doors where there's a bomb with a friction fuse on the hinge, and there's definately gonna be an explosion if that door opens without first disabling the fuse AND removing the explosives. It wasn't unusal to hear on entering a session that one of our members had emergency admittance to the "flight deck" at the VA for lockdown, preventive care with medication adjustments, or simple maintenance until the crisis passed. As I'm sure you're aware, any therapy for PTSD is a difficult process, not a panacea, and it won't work at all without a deep personal commitment, a lot of heart, gut, and mind-wrenching while moving toward personal insight, and total honesty with oneself, the group, and the therapists throughout the process.
And yes, PTSD does cause a myriad of physical problems as well, affecting endorcrine output, the pancreas and the heart, and probably other systems I'm not aware of yet. As you mentioned, stress itself causes physical damage, but when you throw in combat survival chemicals like adrenaline into daily living activities, which happens to many chronic/severe PTSD cases, untreated, througout their lives . . . you're gonna see some pretty terrible health problems as a result of the psychological damage done by untreated, or unsuccessfully treated, PTSD. These problems show up early, of course, and we're aware we have health problems, like acid stomach, for example, early on. But the problems don't usually put us down hard until we reach about the age we're at now.
This is a sad thing: When I was being treated in the early 80s for PTSD, I remember all these middle fifties WWII vets being treated for their medical disorders, and whenever we'd get off the flight deck to go downstairs for Bingo or whatever, it came up in conversations that the medical vets were damn proud they weren't in for psyche like us PTSD people were. They were like, "Hey, the war never bothered me, pal." And the truth was, lots of them were there for medical because their PTSD had gone untreated since WWII.