Wednesday, December 9, 2009
The first study, which examined 90 vets from Iraq and Afghanistan, found that those with higher levels of PTSD also had higher levels of neurosteroids in their brains.
The second study "found that veterans diagnosed with PTSD along with another syndrome, such as depression, alcohol abuse, substance abuse or suicidal ideation, had different brain images on a CT scan than did those who had been diagnosed only with PTSD."
The findings could have implications for treating PTSD by addressing it as a neurological issue rather than simply as a psychological one.
The Air Force Times has more.
Monday, December 7, 2009
The aim of this study is to evaluate the effects of a trauma-focused psychotherapy upon war refugees from Bosnia. Seventy refugees who met the criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and somatoform disorders were included. The first 35 refugees were offered psychotherapy and the following 35 refugees received usual care. Outcome variables were changes in self-reported PTSD symptoms, psychological symptoms, and health status. At 12-month follow-up, participants in the intervention group reported significantly lower scores on the PTSD scale and the measure of psychological symptoms than the comparison group participants. Our results suggest that psychotherapy reduces symptoms of PTSD and somatoform disorders among war refugees even in the presence of insecure residence status.
"After the independence in 1948, Sri Lanka experienced a series of man made and natural disasters that affected the mental health of the population. These disasters had caused waves of PTSD in Sri Lanka. Most of the posttraumatic reactions were not identified or not diagnosed and sufferers lived with the symptoms for a long time sometimes in their entire life span."
This is the first major study of PTSD in Sri Lanka, following more than 30 years of political strife. The findings are shocking:
"Based on our rough estimations 8% - 12 % of combatants are severely affected by combat stress and many of them are not under any type of treatment. According to the survey (done by Dr Neil Fernando / Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge) of psychosocial and mental health problems among the 824 combatants who were referred to the Psychiatric Unit Military Hospital Colombo from August 2002 to March 2005 found a prevalence of conditions like PTSD (6.8%) depression (15.6%) alcohol abuse (3.5%), Somatoform Disorders (7.89%) and psychiatric illnesses such as Schizophrenia Acute Transient Psychotic Disorders etc (9.4%)."
Read more here.
I can't say as this surprises me, but the numbers are still shocking. I've met combat photographers who were permanently traumatized by their experiences. And many war correspondents find themselves in close proximity to combat or directly in danger.
Friday, December 4, 2009
"Positive Psychology," according to author Belleruth Naparstek, "focuses on things like authenticity, productivity, creativity, altruism, gratitude and connection with community, instead of targeting symptoms and pathology." Which all seems well and good, until Naparstek points out that these techniques are unlikely to help someone suffering from trauma.
Give the rest a read here. This could be important information for anyone seeking to define the structure of their own therapy.
This seems like pretty early research, and obviously, results may vary. But it seemed worth reporting.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Fearless Nation, the online community for people suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), will host a massive online event in Second Life (SL), the online virtual environment, to bring awareness to the needs of PTSD survivors and their families. The "Be Fearless" event will run for 24 hours beginning at midnight PST (UTC -8) on December 19, 2009 and run through midnight PST on December 20.
The event will include an open house of the Fearless Nation Second Life community, information and resources about PTSD, and an art show entitled "From the Abyss," allowing visitors to see the world through the eyes of a PTSD survivor. It will also include 24 hours of music and dancing spearheaded by DJ Britsurfer Bauer. Gifts, prizes and SL land giveaways donated by SL residents will also be offered to attendees.
"The 'Be Fearless' event is an opportunity to raise awareness about PTSD and to dispel the stigmas associated with this disorder," says Colleen Crary, founder of Fearless Nation. "We live in a world where it is estimated that 14 percent of the population may have some form of PTSD, yet it remains a highly misunderstood condition."
PTSD can result when one has experienced actual or threatened death or serious injury; threat to one's physical integrity; witnessing an event that involves death, injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of another person; learning about unexpected or violent death, serious harm, or threat of death or injury experienced by a family member or other close associate. Characteristic symptoms include persistent re-experiencing of the traumatic event; persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma; numbing of general responsiveness; and persistent symptoms of increased anxiety.
Fearless Nation is an international multicultural community of PTSD and trauma survivors, offering support, education and understanding of PTSD. The group welcomes PTSD sufferers, their families, friends, and clinicians, war veterans, law enforcement personnel, emergency response workers, torture and crime victims, man-made and natural disaster survivors, and survivors of all traumas.
- Creation of a flexible "physical" presence (the avatar)
- Control over environment (can build, create own space, choose interactions)
- Education about PTSD (knowledge is power)
- Trying activities that diminish fear and anxiety such as:
- Talking openly in a safe space about traumatic experiences
- Progressive muscle relaxation (avatar yoga, movement, dance)
- Performance (music, singing, speaking, poetry, storytelling, dance, showing art, speech-making, etc.)
- Creative expression (music, art, poetry, clothing, etc.)
- Social interaction with others (rebuilding social skills)
- Supporting other PTSDers (getting outside one's own trauma)
- Receiving support from other PTSDers (accepting help and rebuilding social skills)
- Advocating for PTSD awareness and treatment (giving back)
- Trying new ways to approach problems (re-conceive the perception of traumatic experiences)
If you are not already a "resident" of SL, you can get a free account and avatar at www.secondlife.com. Once you have an account, you may attend or participate in the "Be Fearless" event by visiting the SL events page for December 19 or going the Second Life url, http://slurl.com/secondlife/Paradise%20Aloha/76/121/25. You can also find the Fearless Nation community by searching in SL for "PTSD" or by visiting the Fearless Nation website at www.fearless-nation.org.
Friday, November 27, 2009
This is just one of the interesting elements in the AP's recent article about vets with "invisible wounds" returning to the workforce. Give it a read to learn about the challenges many people with PTSD face when seeking jobs, as well as once they are employed, and how the Army's Wounded Warrior Program and forward-thinking companies like Northrop Grumman are helping some vets with PTSD.
The study didn't use actual marijuana, but an artificial, synthetic drug, which was given to rats to see how quickly they could adjust to stress after experiencing an initial trauma.
Hardly conclusive, but worth noting.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Interesting that, even for a country with socialized medicine, the lead here takes an insurance point of view.
But like many discussions of PTSD, this ignores many facets of the problem. 1) Not only soldiers experience PTSD. 2) PTSD was severely under-diagnosed for decades.
...troops on their second or third trip to the combat zone, have more stress related mental problems. While 14 percent of troops on their first combat tour have stress problems, that goes to 18 percent for those on their second tour, and 31 percent for those on their third.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Would keeping a journal of your experiences help you to learn to deal with your PTSD? That's the goal of the Veterans Writers Group started by Fred Tomasello at the Buffalo VA Hospital.
Fred told WGRZ: "The notebook is there, you can write what you want it doesn't pass any judgement on you, you can say what you want and it's always there whenever you want to go back and look at it again."
In this case, the journal doesn't work by itself. The Writers Group is also a support group where vets can talk about what they wrote and what they experienced.
Read more about it here.
A technique called imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT) has been shown to help some people who suffer from PTSD. According to a recent article in USA Today, IRT is "a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on changing harmful thought patterns."
Basically, IRT teaches you to examine your recurring nightmares, then "rewrite the scripts" so that you are in more control of your dreams.
I actually did something very similar just this past week, without knowing it, to deal with the recent death of my father. Every night before I go to sleep, I try to set the intention for my dreams. My nightmares have dramatically receded, and I feel like my dreams are instructing me, rather than terrifying me.
Give the article a read and talk about this with your therapist. It could be worth a try.
Estes ends his article with a personal note: "Like Bobby, I too have PTSD. Quietly, though, afraid of the stigma. I've been to therapy for years and take medication to keep me steady. I'm better most days. And like many veterans, I hope someday people will look at PTSD as a badge of honor."
So how do you feel about this? Should PTSD be a badge of honor? It definitely shouldn't be considered shameful. Maybe treating it honorably will get more soldiers the treatment they need.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Read more about it here.
1. People with PTSD tend to drink a lot to numb the pain.
2. Soldiers who are ordered to drink less but fail are then discharged for failure to follow orders.
Read more at The Salem News.
Science Daily has more.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
The number of soldiers applying to the AFCS for financial assistance after being medically discharged rose from 200 in 2005-06, when the scheme opened, to 845 last year. Troops claiming for injuries suffered in service rose from 240 to 3,255 during the same period.
The disclosures follow revelations last week that service chiefs expect the number wounded in Afghanistan to have doubled by the end of the year. The total to the end of July was 299 – compared to 245 in the whole of 2008.
The figures also show that the numbers of "post-service" claims has risen by a factor of almost 100, from 15 to 1,455 since 2005. A Ministry of Defence spokesman admitted the heavy toll is due to the number of people experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after leaving the services.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Unlike burnout, which is caused by everyday work stresses (dealing with insurance companies, making treatment choices), compassion fatigue results from taking on the emotional burden of a patient's agony.
In a way, it's similar to post-traumatic stress disorder, except that the stress is a reaction to the trauma of another. As with PTSD, symptoms include irritability, disturbed sleep, outbursts of anger, intrusive thoughts, and a desire to avoid anything having to do with the patient's struggle.
Read more here.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Primary Suicide Risk Factor for Veterans
Researchers testing ways to treat the psychological wounds of war among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are encountering a serious roadblock: a shortage of willing study participants.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is moving closer to simplifying the process for many non-combat veterans filing claims for service-connected post-traumatic stress disorder.
Under a proposed change published in the Aug. 24 Federal Register, VA would eliminate a requirement that a veteran must provide evidence documenting that he witnessed or experienced a traumatic event.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Dr. Carol S. North, a Texas psychiatrist and leading researcher on the mental health impact of disasters, said women also are more likely to suffer longer from the anxiety disorder, which can develop after an ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened.
"In the general population, (PTSD) is twice as common in women as men," she said. "Why, we don't know."
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
What say you? Is this helpful? Can the military really be transformed? How does this help soldiers who do not receive this during basic training?
Saturday, August 15, 2009
A new study looked closer at those 82 misdiagnosed adults, and found that at least a quarter of them suffered from PTSD.
Reuters Health has the story.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a thing of the past for a select group of people in Idaho Falls.
Their success in overcoming trauma comes thanks to a counseling technique called Imagery Rescripting and Reprocessing Therapy (IRRT).
Bob Stahn of Well Spring Counseling says the therapy has cured all of the approximately 50 patients he has treated for PTSD in the past two years. He says the perfect success rate surprises him.
Too good to be true? Read more about it here.
Check out the table of contents here.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
But humans and horses can also help each other to deal with the stress of trauma.
Military.com has the story of one therapist using horses to help treat soldiers with PTSD.
Stars and Stripes has more.
Monday, January 26, 2009
The Associated Press has more: "How to Help When Smoking, Alcohol Complicate PTSD"
Friday, January 23, 2009
Theoretically, the procedure -- normally used to treat disorders such as hot flashes, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), Sympathetic Maintained Pain, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, and Herpes Zoster (shingles) -- would calm down the part of the brain that is over-excited because of PTSD.
Of course, this is an unproven, untested treatment, and not everyone believes it would work. Dr. Kurtis Noblett told WLS-TV in Chicago, "I'm also going to be skeptical about treatments that claim to be a quick fix. PTSD is very complex with a whole host of symptoms and problems and associated difficulties that in my mind needs a broader approach to treatment."
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
But is this still the wrong name?
Speaking at a meeting of the American Psychoanalytical Association, Dr. Jonathan Shay says we should lose the word "disorder" and just call it "Post-Traumatic Stress" -- or maybe just call it a "Psychological injury."
Shay says that the word "disorder" mis-characterizes the damage of PTSD, and creates a stigma that makes people who have it less likely to seek treatment.
Is this just semantics? Maybe. But words do have power, as Shay discusses here:
Monday, January 19, 2009
Until now [Don] Frederick has related his World War II experiences to only a close circle of fellow veterans. He's never discussed the experiences in detail with his wife, his three children, or even his brother, another World War II vet. That has changed.
Frederick is now sharing his accounts with people willing to listen to what he has to say including [Dr. Susan Czapiewski, a psychiatrist at the Veterans hospital in Minneapolis and an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota.]. The talking is therapy, Czapiewski said. Talk therapy hinges on the talker making a connection with a listener, she said.
"There's a muscle in our middle ear that focuses, that allows us focus on that human voice and sort of drown out what else is going on in the environment, and so there's this strong very primitive social connection that happens that is very soothing and very calming and very healing," she said.
Friday, January 16, 2009
As Dr. Phillip Leveque writes for Salem-News.com, "Clint shows survivor guilt, paranoia, total irascibility, hate of all enemies and even a death wish which are all symptoms of PTSD."
(Be careful reading the full article if you don't want the ending of the movie spoiled for you!)
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
In a potential landmark case for soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, a Santa Clara County jury Tuesday found a former Army captain diagnosed with PTSD not guilty by reason of insanity for robbing a Mountain View pharmacy of drugs at gunpoint.
The jury's verdict means that West Point graduate Sargent Binkley of Los Altos will be treated for the disorder in a state hospital or as an outpatient rather than face 12 to 23 years behind bars.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
The study followed "2,000 adult victims of the World Trade Center disaster" for two years after the event.
Some possible therapeutic methods for treating PTSD could come out of this study: "Consistent with earlier findings, the study suggests that brief psychological interventions immediately following the event can prevent long term mental health issues. Also effective is informal support from families, friends and spiritual communities. Interestingly, extensive psychological therapy appears to delay recovery."
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Afghanistan vet Rob Kislow got so low, he tried to commit suicide, only to have his gun jam at the last minute. He talked about his experiences with PTSD publicly for the first time last month."My battle with post traumatic stress"
Chanice Ward of the UK's Royal Medical Corps also tried to kill herself, twice, but "her bosses would not accept she was suffering from an illness and her complaints fell on deaf ears."
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Many troops coming home from the wars binge-drink alcohol, [Dr. Thomas] Kosten said. About 3 percent are hooked on opiate painkillers. And overall, the returning troops smoke cigarettes at levels more than double that of the general population, he said.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Calling the game-play a “cognitive vaccine,” the researchers write that the game competes with resources the brain would otherwise assign to trauma flashbacks:
“Visuospatial cognitive tasks selectively compete for resources required to generate mental images. Thus, a visuospatial computer game (e.g. “Tetris”) will interfere with flashbacks. Visuospatial tasks post-trauma, performed within the time window for memory consolidation, will reduce subsequent flashbacks. We predicted that playing “Tetris” half an hour after viewing trauma would reduce flashback frequency over 1-week.”
Read the paper here:
Can Playing the Computer Game “Tetris” Reduce the Build-Up of Flashbacks for Trauma? A Proposal from Cognitive Science