Monday, December 27, 2010

Journaling: A Tool to Help Treat PTSD

The AW2 Blog, the official blog of the Army's Wounded Warrior Program, recent ran an article about Journaling as a Tool to Treat PTSD.

"Journaling provides a vehicle which allows servicemembers and Veterans to begin to draw out their feelings and memories without the perceived risk of speaking about them," said author Michael Cain (no relation to the actor), who teaches journaling on a volunteer basis at Fort Bragg.

Cain's workbook for the course is not yet publicly available, but he said on his own blog that he hopes it will be more widely available soon.

Cain was also interviewed back in October by the Fayetteville Observer, where he says that journaling is not, as it is so often characterized, only for women. "The point is to get it out of their head rather than to have someone analyze it," Cain told the Observer. "As long as it's locked in their brain, it's going to fester."

Have you tried writing a journal (or even a blog) to explore your feelings about PTSD and your trauma? We'd love to hear your about it. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rutgers Researchers Find Key to Gender Differences in Processing Stress

Women are more sensitive to stress, and therefore more likely to suffer from depression or PTSD, because of slight differences in male and female brains, according to new research.

From a recent Rutgers University press release:

Tracey Shors, a professor of psychology in Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences, has uncovered a clue to why men and women handle stress so differently in the brains of male and female rats.

The research, published Dec. 1 in the Journal of Neuroscience, has implications for the way stress-related disorders are treated in men and women.

Shors and her co-authors, graduate student Lisa Maeng and post-doctoral scholar Jaylyn Waddell, examined two brain regions important in learning and stress, the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. The amygdala, a small almond-shaped structure located deep within the brain, senses stressful situations. The prefrontal cortex, in the front of the brain, is necessary for higher cognitive functions.

“These two structures are intimately connected to one another,” Shors said. “Therefore, we examined whether they communicate with one another to influence learning after stress.”

The researchers exposed male and female rats to stress, and then presented them with an associative learning task. During training, the rats learned to associate one event with another that occurred later in time. They played a tone and later stimulated the rats’ eyelids to elicit a blink.  After the stimulus was taken away, most of the male rats responded to the tone by blinking on their own. Most of the females, however, did not blink in response to the tone, indicating that they had failed to learn that association. But the research also contained a neurological surprise for Shors, Maeng and Waddell.

When Shors and her colleagues disrupted the connections between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala in some of the females, those females were able to learn the association.

“This wasn’t true for males," Shors said. "So, males and females are using different brain structures to learn after stress. In other words, females can learn after stress if the prefrontal cortex can’t ‘talk’ to the amygdala. From this, we conclude that males and females can use different brain circuits to learn after stressful life events.”

Read more here

Monday, December 20, 2010

Research: Stress (and its damage) Can Be Passed on Genetically

According to new research, some of the effects of PTSD could possibly be passed on to your offspring, or even make your children more likely to develop PTSD if they encounter their own traumatic events. 

A study of Holocaust survivors found that their children were more susceptible to PTSD because the bodies of both parents and children generated lower levels of cortisol, a hormone that helps shut down the stress response.

The Independent has much more on this research in a recent article:

Stressed out? It could be in your genes

Friday, December 17, 2010

Older Vets with PTSD May Be More Prone to Dementia

According to new research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, "The incidence and prevalence of dementia is greater in veterans with PTSD."

 While the research proved no causality (in other words, it does not suggest that PTSD causes dementia), it does suggest that properly treating veterans with PTSD should include screening for the onset of dementia as they get older. As the authors write in the abstract, "Because PTSD is so common in veterans, this association has important implications for veteran care."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Aromatherapy, Yoga & PTSD

In addition to therapy and medications, there are numerous things people can do to help ease the symptoms from their PTSD. Learning to relax is vitally important, and two ways to help you relax are yoga and aromatherapy.

Over at the site SelfGrowth.com, certified aromatherapist Robin Barnette offers a few ideas on using aromatherapy to relax and reduce anxiety.

Smell has been said to be a tremendous gateway to memory and the right aromas really can help you get to a good place in your head. Check out here recommendations here.

How have aromatherapy, yoga or other techniques helped you? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Florida Declares PTSD Awareness Week

This is PTSD Awareness Week in Florida. The state has the second-highest concentration on US veterans in the country.

Florida Governor Signs PTSD Awareness Week Proclamation

Monday, December 13, 2010

10% of LGBT youth may have PTSD

A major new study of LGBT youth reveals that 30 percent may suffer from mental disorders, with 10 percent suffering from PTSD.

The University of Illinois at Chicago study examined 246 "ethnically diverse 16- to 20-year-old LGBT youth in Chicago" to reveal which ones had experienced "major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide attempts and conduct disorder."

Other revelations: 15 percent of the youths met the criteria for severe depression; 6 percent had attempted suicide; and bisexual youths were less likely to have psychological problems.

You can read more about this study at the link above.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

David Lynch, Transcendental Meditation & PTSD

Famed filmmaker David Lynch is about to launch a new project called Operation Warrior Wellness, which will aim to teach Transcendental Meditation to 10,000 veterans to help combat their PTSD. There's no real information about it online yet, but it officially launches on December 13 with a fundraiser featuring Lynch, Clint Eastwood, George Lucas, Dr. Oz, and others. Tonic (a news site I often write for) has an interview with Lynch about meditation and how it can help PTSD, and the Huffington Post has a much more in-depth article about the entire project and how it began.

From what we've read, Lynch's foundation will be offering scholarships or grants to help people attend the $1,500 workshops for as little as $750 or $375. We'll post more when we hear it.

Read our previous story on Lynch here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Newsweek asks, "Do the Taliban Get PTSD?"

In a headline sure to draw attention, Newsweek asks, Do the Taliban Get PTSD?

It's an over-simplified question, but the truth, as Newsweek itself points out, is that after decades of non-stop war and aggression, just about everyone in Afghanistan probably has some form of psychological trauma:

Combat-related mental problems are a fact of life for just about everyone in Afghanistan, of course. According to Dr. Suraya Dalil, Afghanistan’s health minister, 60 percent of the population is suffering from mental-health problems, thanks not only to the war but to the country's extreme poverty and woefully inadequate health care. "Mental illness among the people is as common as malaria," says Mullah Mohammad. "It's alarming, but not surprising, that there are so many psychologically disturbed people in Afghanistan," says Dr. Wahab Yousafzai, a Pakistani psychiatrist who runs training courses for Afghan physicians who work in provincial health-care centers. "Common people feel helpless. Death can come at any minute from U.S. and NATO forces or the Taliban."

We've seen the same in other countries that have experienced war and struggle stretching across multiple generations, such as Sri Lanka, Ireland, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Cyprus to name a few.

The main question really isn't the one that Newsweek asks, but how many generations it will take Afghanistan and other countries to cleanse themselves of the pain of trauma.

Monday, December 6, 2010

67% of prostitutes meet criteria for PTSD

Tim Bates, columnist for the Rome Observer, digs up some surprising statistics about prostitution:

"the Council for Prostitution Alternatives, in Portland, Oregon... found that 85 percent of surveyed prostitutes reported a history of sexual abuse in childhood, while 70 percent reported incest. Compare that to estimates of childhood sexual abuse in the general population at anywhere from 15- 38 percent of women and 12-16 percent of men...

"Other statistics ... over half have been raped or beaten by a client, more than three quarters have been physically assaulted while in prostitution and/or have attempted suicide, and that 67 percent meet diagnostic criteria for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)."

Bates is arguing that prostitution is hardly a "victimless crime," as many often see it, but tends to involve people who have already been traumatized victimized and makes it likely for the women to be further traumatized at every step.

Crimes against prostitutes are far too often ignored by the police. This is a segment of the population whose trauma almost makes them invisible.

Let's not forget that soldiers aren't the only people with PTSD, and that war takes on many forms.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Yoga Nidra and PTSD


Yoga Nidra has been shown to reduce anxiety, create higher quality sleep patterns, promote better physical and mental health, and help people gain control over their fear response. These are all essential tools for helping people learn to deal with their PTSD symptoms.

The Department of Defense has conducted research on Yoga Nidra through a program called iRest offered by the Integrative Restoration Institute, which offers a number of workshops and tutorials around the country. YogaTherapyWeb has an article about iRest here.

If you can't afford an iRest workshop or if you don't have the energy to travel, try the Fearless Nation PTSD Support virtual retreat in Second Life (pictured). There's no cost to participate, and you can do it from the safety and comfort of your home.

Study: Crohn's Disease May Cause PTSD

I have a few friends with Crohn's disease -- the often-disabling inflammable bowel disorder --  so a new study really struck me.

The study followed 600 people in Switzerland with Crohn's disease for 18 months. A full 19% of these people were found to have the criteria for PTSD. And those people with both Crohn's and PTSD had the worst of both worlds -- they were 13 times more likely to have had their Crohn's symptoms get worse in that 18-month period, possibly due to hormonal and immune system responses.

Crohn's causes severe pain and constant diarrhea, leaving patients with a constant state of panic about their pending symptoms. This never-ending stress is what can trigger PTSD in some patients.

The doctors behind the study, which appeared Dec. 2 in the journal Frontline Gastroenterology, say that Crohn's can not be cured, but PTSD can -- not necessarily true, but it is more treatable -- so treating the two conditions together could help reduce the symptoms from Crohn's disease.

Read more here:

Study Suggests Link Between Crohn's Disease and PTSD

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rape, PTSD & Breastfeeding

A traumatic event can affect a person's entire life, but what happens when another life is brought into the equation?

According to Dr. Wendy Walsh, writing on the site Mom Logic, victims of rape or other forms of sexual assault can find themselves triggered by something otherwise very natural: breastfeeding.

But as Walsh writes, women can also use breastfeeding as a way to empower themselves and take back their bodies from the memory of trauma.

Read more here:

Breastfeeding and Rape Trauma

Managing Your Post-Holiday Stress

Psychology Today has a great new article about managing your holiday-induced stress: PTSD: Post-Thanksgiving Stress Disorder?

Here's a good quote from the beginning of the article:

"But time alone will not put the past behind you. Without realizing it, you may be holding onto your pain -- and often re-create it in the present -- in a misguided attempt to protect yourself from further trauma."

This is all less about PTSD than the general trauma caused by our every-day lives, but it's still worth a read.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tips on Coping with Holiday Stress

The start of the big holiday season is upon us -- a cause for stress for people with PTSD (not to mention just about everyone else). How do you handle it? Fearless Nation founder Colleen Crary has come up with some great tips for dealing with the holidays. Read, enjoy, and take care of yourself.

Monday, November 22, 2010

University of Connecticut Tries New Approach to Educating Vets with PTSD

This is one of the most interesting and in-depth articles about the troubles vets with PTSD have re-integrating into society that we've seen in a while. Take this passage about one vet who tried to start taking classes:


Looking to continue the physical discipline of the Army, Matt enrolled in a six-month program to become a personal trainer. However, his conduct in the classroom caused his classmates to recoil and ultimately keep their distance. He repeatedly buttonholed them to listen to his ravings and tales from Iraq. He screamed at the television when an Arabic speaker came on and jumped when someone dropped a pan in the training school’s pantry.

He was a stocky, sinewy soldier, with a martial arts Ultimate- Fighting-Championship build, who always donned the same GI-Joe cartoon T-shirt and stocking hat. He had a brooding and sullen stare and remarked, incessantly and uncontrollably, on the stressors of his war experience as his one and only life experience. His classmates gave him the nickname “McMurphy” after Jack Nicholson’s iconoclastic, charismatic mental patient in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

“Those guys on the side of the road with the cardboard signs — I can see how they get there,” Matt says. “I’m afraid of losing everything I came home to.” The 35-year-old soldier bitterly calls himself a poster child for PTSD.
To help better understand how to offer education to people with PTSD, the University of Connecticut is studying a new technique called Trauma Affect Regulation: Guide for Education and Therapy (TARGET). The two-year study will be funded by a $750,000 grant from from the U.S. Justice Department, and the school is seeking 90 male vets to participate.

The study will put half of the participants through "traditional" therapy ("prolonged exposure" therapy, which we haven't actually heard as having many good results), while the rest will be taught techniques to increase skills for controlling anger and other emotions.

Click the link above to read more.

Friday, November 19, 2010

PTSD linked to hardened arteries, heart disease, death

Stress kills, and post-traumatic stress disorder is no exception.

According to research presented earlier this week at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association, men and women with PTSD have more calcium buildup in their arteries than people without PTSD. According to a report from CNN's Health.com, "Calcium buildup is a hallmark of atherosclerosis (also known as hardening of the arteries), which can lead to heart attacks."

The veterans who did have this calcium buildup were "48 percent more likely to die of any cause during the study and 41 percent more likely to die from heart disease compared to those without PTSD," the study found.

The study was conducted on 637 veterans, and was part of a broader 10-year study that examined 286,000 mostly male vets from conflicts dating as far back as the Korean War. It did not look at non-veterans who might also have been suffering from PTSD.

What causes this calcium buildup? That's still unclear, but the scientists behind the new study said stress could be one factor. Another factor could be not getting enough exercise or other "unhealthy behaviors."

As a conference presentation, this study has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lethal Warriors: New Book Examines How PTSD Turned Veterans Violent

The Atlantic magazine has an excellent review/essay about the new book Lethal Warriors, about how PTSD can make soldiers self-destruct and turn violent.

You can find out more about the book itself here:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Biofeedback & PTSD: Teleseminar this Thursday

The Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB) will present a teleseminar on PTSD on November 18, 2010 at 1:00 Eastern time. The 90-minute presentation on “The Central Autonomic Network and Combat PTSD: Assessment and Intervention” will be given by Dr. Carmen Russoniello, a former Marine machine gunner and decorated Vietnam combat veteran.

You can read about the seminar (and watch a video about the biofeedback program it's kind of promoting) here and register for the $119 seminar here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tetris blocks PTSD? Uh, no.

Every morning, I get an email containing all of the previous day's headlines about PTSD. Today's email lists dozens of links to news stories about a study that claims playing the video game Tetris shortly after experiencing a trauma can help prevent PTSD.

Sorry, but this study is junk science.

Here's how the authors of this study came up with their "conclusions." They took a bunch of healthy volunteers and showed them 21 minutes of films containing some "traumatic" injury. Car crashes, surgery, stuff like that. Then, 30 minutes after the film was over, they had some of the test subjects play Testris. (Others played a different video game, while some just stood quietly like good little lab rats.)

The researchers found that in the weeks that followed, the people who played Tetris reflected on those movies less.

Well I'm sorry, but 21 minutes of video is not going to give someone PTSD (not unless you showed them video of their daughter in a car crash, or something truly traumatic like that). So there's no way that this study can be equated with people who actually experience a real traumatic event.

Yes, research has shown that treating for potential PTSD immediately after an event can lessen its impact and possibly even prevent it. But this study doesn't support any of that, and the only reason the media is heavily reporting it is because it's got just that right combination of oddity and "easy cure" mentality that makes "news" way too easy to produce.

Now, I've played more than my fair share of Tetris over the years -- in fact, I played so much of it that I have had long, vivid dreams about playing Tetris. Following these researchers' logic, maybe playing Tetris gives people PTSD? Nah, I don't think so.

Monday, November 8, 2010

People with Intellectual Disabilities Can Face Greater Risk of PTSD

People with intellectual disabilities (mental retardation, autism, etc) can face greater risks of getting PTSD from traumatic events, both because they are more vulnerable to it and because they are more vulnerable to being physically or sexually abused, according to a study published in Clinical Psychology Review.

It is also often hard for caregivers to recognize what someone with an intellectual disability finds to be traumatic, and PTSD symptoms may display differently in these people, so help isn't always forthcoming or easy to give.

Unfortunately, study of people with intellectual disabilities remains low, and their PTSD often goes untreated.

You can read more about this study -- which is actually a review of the small amount of literature on the subject -- here: PTSD in People with Intellectual Disabilities

Friday, November 5, 2010

Smartphone helps patients track their moods

Are you more anxious today than you were yesterday? More or less sad? Tired? Worried? A new smartphone app can help you track these feelings from day to day, charting the results for either yourself or you and your therapist.

The T2 Mood Tracker, available for Android smartphones, tracks the user's mood and general well-being. You can track how you're feeling each day:



...then use the app to see how your mood and emotions are changing over time:


In addition to adding a number value to their emotions, the user can also add notes about how they are feeling on a certain day.

The categories themselves change a bit depending on if the patient is monitoring stress, depression, brain injury, PTSD, or general health.

The free program was developed for and released by the Department of Defense to help service members and vets, who, statistically, are using their phones more than their laptops.

Perry Bosmajian, the psychologist who helped to develop the Mood Tracker, told the News Tribune: "The very first question a doctor or a therapist asks is 'How have you been doing since I saw you last?' Everything that follows is based on that answer. With this, it's all documented, how you're feeling."

Click the links above to find out more. And if you've used the T2 Mood Tracker, comment below and let everyone know what you think!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

PTSD Tied to Higher Rates of Sleep Apnea

As if it weren't bad enough that people with PTSD have trouble sleeping, a new study of 135 vets with PTSD found that 54% had obstructive sleep apnea -- well above the 20% experienced in the general population.

The study was reported last week at the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians.

Now, this hardly proves causality, but it does suggest that if a person with PTSD is having trouble sleeping then all avenues should be explored. A physical element could be partially to blame and only treating sleeplessness with medications won't solve the problem if you also have sleep apnea.

(And speaking as someone with sleep apnea, seriously, it's bad. Get tested and get treatment.)

Read more about this study here: Medical News: CHEST: Apnea Elevated in Vets With PTSD

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

2nd Annual 24-hour PTSD Awareness Event This Weekend

The second annual worldwide "Be Fearless!" event to raise awareness, educate the public and banish stigma about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will be held online on November 6, 2010.

The 24-hour event, hosted by Fearless Nation PTSD Support, Inc., a nonprofit organization hailing from the USA, will focus on fact-based PTSD information and two simultaneous live stage events with internationally popular musicians and DJs. People from around the globe can attend the event via Second Life, the virtual online community. The entire "Be Fearless!" event will be broadcast live online through the Fearless Nation website.

The "Be Fearless" event begins at 00:00 Pacific Coast Time (-7 GMT/UTC) on November 6 and will run for 24 hours.

Visit the links above for more information!

Friday, October 29, 2010

PTSD Brains Hyperactive Even When 'Relaxed'

A new study reveals something that shouldn't come as much of a surprise: the brains of people with PTSD are hyperactive even when they are "relaxed."

Using a technique called magnetoencephalography or MEG, researchers found that people with PTSD have heightened activity in the right-hand hemisphere of their brains. According to a report from HealthDay, "Compared with the healthy 'controls,' the PTSD patients showed 'hyperactive' communication between the temporal cortex -- the part of the brain thought to be responsible for reliving past experiences -- and two other areas on the right side of the brain."

This hyperactivity was present even though the patients were in a relaxed state for the MEG scan.

The study was published in the Journal of Neural Engineering. The paper is available free online for a limited time.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Research: A blood test to diagnose PTSD?

Researchers at Israel's Rebecca Sieff Hospital report they have come up with a blood test that can diagnose PTSD, as well as evaluate the effectiveness of a patient's treatment.

According to the researchers, patients with PTSD had higher levels of gamma delta T lymphocytes, which are produced by the body's inflammatory response to trauma. The same cells are generated by physical situations such as wounds or infections.

The study was conducted using blood samples from 33 people with PTSD and 31 "healthy" people.

Interestingly, the male patients with PTSD were found to have even higher levels of gamma delta T lymphocytes than women.

According to lead researcher Dr. Ofer Klein, doctors can use these cells to tell if a patient's treatment is effective. If the cell count goes down, then treatment is working.

The results of this early study were presented at a conference and have not yet been formally published.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

After 40 years, father with PTSD reunited with the daughter he left behind

39 years ago, John Watson, a Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD, abandoned his wife and three-year-old daughter.

20 years ago, when he was healthier, he started trying to find his daughter.

It took him until this year, when he finally located his daughter, now 42, on Facebook.

You can read their story, and watch a video interview, here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Children Can Get PTSD from Their Parents

A Canadian study focusing on the families of returning vets indicates that parents can pass PTSD along to their children.

"Isolation, depression and trauma are among the symptoms soldiers pass on to their kids, according to preliminary results from a Canadian study," according to a report on the study at the website Parent Dish. Kids also risk "physical abuse, emotional neglect and unpredictable rage."

The study was very small -- just four teenagers whose parents, three of whom had PTSD, had served in recent conflicts, but it echoes other studies and real-world examples we've heard too much about.

Read more:

Children Getting More PTSD, Less TLC From Parents Returning From War

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fly fishing: A learning experience for people with PTSD

A program called Project Healing Waters is teaching veterans fly fishing as a way to potentially control the symptoms of their PTSD.

In Hot Springs, South Dakota, the program, taught by Korean War veteran Jim Phoenix, who told the Rapid City Journal "You have to have a little humor to go along with it. We don’t dwell on their battle problems."

Clinical social worker Loree Greco has brought the Healing Waters program to the Hot Sprints PTSD clinic. She told the newspaper, "It teaches them to look at power and control differently because you can’t just hurry and bully this. It takes time to learn the technique. A lot say they can't trust anyone. Through this process, they can trust others. The world isn't black and white anymore; they start seeing trust on a continuum."

Check out that link above for more on the program in South Dakota, or visit the main Project Healing Waters website to learn more and find a program near you.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Navy publishes free graphic novel about combat stress

The Naval Health Research Center (NHRC) has published a 200-page graphic novel (available for free to Navy and Marine personnel by mail or to all online) to help Corpsmen understand "the stresses of combat deployments."

"The Docs" The graphic novel tells the stories of four fictional corpsmen as an illustration of "military life within a combat zone."

"Since the start of combat operations in the Middle East, Navy Medicine recognized that expeditionary hospital corpsmen have extremely high exposure to the many significant stressors of war, both acute and chronic," said Capt. Greg Utz, NHRC commanding officer, in a press release about the project. "Their dual roles as caregivers and combatants puts them at high risk for stress injuries, so we developed this graphic novel as an innovative way to help our Sailors prepare for and interpret situations they may see in theater."

I've read "The Docs," and it's rather amateurishly illustrated and written, and obviously more of a PR-related pro-military device than a truly honest work, but it still packs some truth and reality and a few surprising moments. I'd say it's worth a look, at least as a starting point, but anyone who really wants to know about "combat stress" needs to go a lot further.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Biofeedback and PTSD

The Alternative Health blog points us to a study from Walter Reed Army Medical Center that says Biofeedback is not helpful for people with PTSD.

Not all research supports this conclusion. A program (PDF) developed by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network suggests that biofeedback can be helpful, although its results have not been fully analyzed.

Other biofeedback research often seems tied to EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), which we have heard extremely conflicting reports about.

You know what we have found to be the most effective form of biofeedback? A dog. When you're happy and relaxed, so is your dog. When you're stressed and anxious and fearful, your dog tells you so.

Do you have any thoughts or experience with biofeedback or EMDR? Share them here!

Friday, October 8, 2010

40 Excellent Blogs for PTSD Support

The Nursing Schools website has pulled together this excellent resource: 40 Excellent Blogs for PTSD Support.

Alas, we didn't make the list, but PTSD News is more about information than support, so we encourage you to click the link and start reading.

Several of these blogs also appear on our blogroll sidebar, along with a few others that didn't make the Nursing Schools list, so don't forget to check out our sidebar, too!

Do you know of any sites that didn't make either list? Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Study: Hispanics More Prone to PTSD

This isn't a new study, but it popped up in my news alerts, and I thought it was worth sharing.

According to a study published in 2006 by the journal Psychiatry,"Hispanics as a population may be more prone to the development of PTSD." The study found that trauma was intensified by the addition of racial discrimination and the loss of cultural social networks that might have otherwise provided some relief mechanism.

It's this loss of cultural, familial and religious networks (a situation that all immigrants may find themselves in) that makes this study particularly relevant. As the authors write, "the Latino population continues to grow at a pace that far exceeds the capability of both current Latino/bilingual psychiatrists and the number of Latinos in the mental health provider pipeline."

You can read the paper's abstract here: The Relevance of Hispanic Culture to the Treatment of a Patient with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Monday, October 4, 2010

'Mind Fitness' May Help Prevent PTSD

Can the brain be made more fit and therefore more likely to resist/recover from PTSD? That's the goal of a program called Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training or MMFT (pronounced "M-Fit").

According to the program's website, "Mind fitness can help individuals to enhance mental performance, support their body’s resilience to stress, and respond effectively to challenges rather than react habitually in ways that may undermine objectives."

As Georgetown University professor and MMFT creator Elizabeth Stanley says, the mindfulness taught by M-Fit increases "our bandwidth for what's happening right now."

The program is currently being tested by the Department of Defense to see if it can help makes troops more resilient and more adaptable. Stanley trained a pilot group of 35 Marines in 2008 and has now tested them upon their return. "The more the Marines practiced MMFT exercises, the more they improved their working memory capacity -- the ability to control attention over time -- and the more they experienced fewer negative emotions and more positive emotions," she said in a Georgetown University press release.

In addition to teaching MMFT to soldiers, the program also offers courses to military family members and to caregivers.

Read more about them at the links above.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Should you disclose your PTSD in the workplace?

GettingHired.com has a great new article, Disclosing PTSD in the Workplace. It's a must-read, with several helpful links.

Disclosing PTSD is a tricky (and scary) issue. It's always good to be honest with your boss and co-workers so they understand any limitations you might have, or anything you might need from them. But you don't want to open yourself up to blatant discrimination (illegal though it may be) or the more subtle ostracizing that can occur when people hear the words "PTSD."

How have your experiences gone in the workplace? Feel free to talk about them here. Someone else might value from your comments.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Treating PTSD: A guide to the guidelines

A paper in the new issue of the Journal of Traumatic Stress examines the various guidelines that exist to treat PTSD and recommends that a set of global treatment guidelines be established.

"Several guidelines have been published around the world that describe best practice interventions for people who have developed post-traumatic stress disorder," said the study's lead author, David Forbes, in a prepared statement. "While there is some consistency across these guidelines, there are also important points of difference. This can be confusing for those using the guidelines, whether they are clinicians, people affected by trauma, or service planners such as government. It is sometimes hard for them to understand why these guidelines differ and which of the recommendations are most appropriate for their requirements."

You can read the abstract to the paper here. (Full access is restricted to journal subscribers.)

PTSD interrupts lives after trauma

"8 percent of the American population suffers from some form of PTSD, though experts in the field say up to 15 percent of Americans do. Although soldiers returning from war are more commonly known sufferers of PTSD, once called 'shell shock' and 'battle fatigue,' PTSD can affect anyone who has suffered a traumatic event."

Read more in the San Jose Mercury News: PTSD interrupts lives after trauma

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Research: PTSD Shrinks Parts of Your Brain

According to new research published in PubMed.gov, PTSD shrinks the caudate nucleus, putamen, globus pallidus, hippocampus, thalamus, and lateral ventricle in the brain, which explains the headaches many people with PTSD suffer.

The study was conducted on male patients who were not undergoing other therapy for their headaches.

You can read the paper's abstract here.

Veterans With PTSD Suffer More Physical Ailments

"U.S. soldiers with post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer more physical ailments than those with no mental health issues, and this effect is stronger in women than men, a new study shows."

Read more: Veterans With PTSD Suffer More Physical Ailments Than Their Peers

Monday, September 27, 2010

David Lynch Foundation to support soldiers with PTSD

Pioneering filmmaker David Lynch (Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks) is also a long-standing proponent of Transcendental Meditation (TM). Now Lynch wants to teach soldiers with PTSD how to use TM to reduce their stress and transform their lives.

Lynch's foundation, The David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace, is seeking funding for a program to bring TM to veterans.

Will it work? Their site quotes the Journal of Counseling and Development: "Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress who practiced TM showed significant reductions in depression, anxiety, and family problems after four months, in contrast to veterans randomly assigned to psychotherapy."

You can find out more about the project, and watch a short video, here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

PTSD: What's in a name?

What the heck do you call someone with PTSD?

PTSD sufferer? (sounds like you have arthritis)
PTSD victim? (ick)
PTSDer? (I've used this a lot, but really?)

Even the term "Post-traumatic stress disorder" is awfully PC, and doesn't really convey the truth or the pain of the person living with it.

So seriously, what do you call someone with PTSD? Fearless Nation PTSD Support is having a discussion to come up with a new name for "people of trauma."

Here's how it all began:

"I was chatting with my friend, artist Glenn Fitzpatrick, and I referred to 'people with PTSD' as 'PTSDers'. Right off, Glenn said, 'I don't like that term, it makes it sound like we are defined by PTSD.' I agreed. I only used it because I hate terms like 'sufferer', 'survivor', or 'victim'... and I really hate the terms 'patient', or the condition described as a 'disease.'"

What's your thought? Join the discussion at WHAT'S IN A NAME?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monitoring prison officers with PTSD

According to a recent article from The Associated Press, a number of veterans returning to work in the States have found jobs as prison guards. And that can set them up for a fall.

Police and corrections officers are loath to show weakness, and few seek help to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, said Caterina Spinaris Tudor, founder of Desert Waters Correctional Outreach in Canon City. She said PTSD developed abroad can be retriggered on the job by varying scenarios, including assaults, hostage situations or suicides by inmates or fellow officers.

But prison officials in Colorado, New Jersey and other states are looking at this as a problem that can be addressed, and are adding counselors to help corrections officers to deal with their PTSD and the stress of their jobs.

Read all about it at the link above.

Friday, September 10, 2010

More talk, less pills

Over the last three years, at least 32 US veterans have died of accidental prescription drug overdoses.  One vet was taking 11 different medications:


Diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and suffering primarily from psychiatric problems, Robert Nichols was taking a mix of 11 drugs that left him groggy and confused during the last few weeks of his life. They included Percocet, Valium, Celexa, the antipsychotic Seroquel, and Depakote, an anti-seizure drug used to treat major depression and bipolar disorder...

Some of the criticism of Nichols' other others' deaths comes from having too many doctors, each of whom are prescribing and none of whom are consulting with the others.

Not only should doctors be talking with each other, we'd advise people with PTSD to seek talk therapy rather than rely on so many medications.

The Navy Times has more:
Too many prescriptions, too little talk

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Study suggests PTSD increases likelihood of dementia

A new study suggests that veterans who experienced combat may be more likely to develop dementia later in life that people without PTSD. The actual rate of developing dementia was still quite small, and the study found no actual causality (they did not prove that PTSD causes dementia), and the results really seem to be being released as a way to say "we need to keep studying this."

Read more: PTSD from War Stress Linked to Dementia Risk

PTSD and Chronic Pain

PTSDers with chronic pain "experience greater difficulty coping with the pain, higher levels of pain and distress, and greater interference of pain in their lives than people who have no PTSD symptoms," according to the National Pain Foundation. Understanding that a patient has both PTSD and chronic pain is essential for a medical provider to offer thorough and correct treatment for both conditions, or else they are at the risk of solving neither.

The National Pain Foundation's article PTSD and Chronic Pain offers tips for patients talking with their doctors and for doctors treating patients with PTSD.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

'Violin Doc' helps treat PTSD with music

At a New Jersey VA clinic, Dr. Mary Rorro is helping vets with PTSD by playing music. The goal: help the vets to relax before they begin talk therapy.

Music therapy is gaining acceptance, based in part on some new research:

"...recent findings from McGill University’s Neuropsychology department suggest that specific parts of the brain are activated when patients listen to music which they like. And when the nucleus accumbens and the caudate nucleus, which are part of the reward, motivation and emotion systems, get jazzed up, a person starts feeling better. These same circuits release powerful chemicals when someone falls in love, eats good food, does drugs or has sex."

Rorro, nicknamed the "Violin Doc" (despite the fact that she plays a viola) says that live music, played slowly on lower-pitched instruments, with no lyrics and with a steady beat, connects best with the people she is treating.

You can read more about this, and watch some videos of Rorro playing, here, thanks to New York's WNYC:

Music Therapy Helps Vets Control Symptoms of PTSD

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Childhood trauma results in adult alcohol abuse

According to a new study, women who abuse alcohol suffered a greater level of childhood trauma. The study looked at 106 men and women without PTSD (a fairly small sample group), but it's another way of disputing that old "children are resilient" saw.

The study was published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Can lowering your blood pressure reduce your nightmares?

Many people with PTSD suffer from nightmares. In fact, it's one of the most common effects of PTSD.

One of the other common side effects of PTSD is high blood pressure, caused in part by the body's constant state of stress and production of adrenalin. Nightmares and sleeplessness don't help, and can make your blood pressure even higher.

But can tackling high blood pressure first help reduce the amount of nightmares you have, and in turn further help lower your blood pressure?

According to this new article at the Huffington Post -- Nightmares In PTSD: Don't Get Your Blood Pressure Up -- the answer could be yes.


The high blood pressure medicine, prazosin, dampens adrenalin's effect on the heart and blood vessels by blocking receptors for the hormone. This old medicine has become the newest approach to treating PTSD. Studies are still underway, but the data thus far show that 75 to 8- percent of PTSD patients who try prazosin stop having nightmares and sleep through the night with normal dreams.

The article is based on research published last year in the journal Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry.

Click through the link above to read more.

PTSD in Refugees

The National Center for Refugees has another in their excellent series of articles, this one covering PTSD in Refugees.

According to the article, refugees can experience PTSD at rates as low as 4% but as high as 86%, depending on their situations and the traumas they encountered.

Unfortunately, not much in the form of treatment exists yet for refugees with PTSD, so let's keep this oft-neglected populace in our thoughts.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

How children react to parents with PTSD

One family member's PTSD can have terrible effects on the rest of the family, especially when it's a parent suffering.

According to an article from the National Center for PTSD, the symptoms of PTSD "can be frightening not only for the individual experiencing them but also for the children who witness them."

Children often react to PTSD in three common ways: by behaving like their PTSDer parent (the "over-identified child"); by trying to fill the adult's normal role in the family (the "rescuer child"); or by becoming emotionally uninvolved.

All of these responses can pose problems for a child later in life. And in fact, the children can, themselves, develop their own cases of PTSD, a condition known as "intergenerational transmission of trauma."

But that doesn't mean the situation is hopeless for families. According to the article, simply explaining to a child why a parent has been traumatized (without going in graphic detail) can go a long way toward alleviating the stress a child feels.

Treatment/therapy as a family is also often a valuable asset and tool.

If anyone in your family is suffering from PTSD, this article by Jennifer L. Price, PhD, is essential reading:

When a Child's Parent Has PTSD - National Center for PTSD

Bend, Don't Break

How do you build resilience to anxiety and trauma? Optimism is one key element of what it takes to survive, according to Dr. Dennis S. Charney, dean of Academic and Scientific Affairs at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, who has spent the last 20-plus years studying PTSD, stress and human resiliency.

Read more about his work here:

Psychiatry Weekly: Bending, not Breaking: A Prescription for Resilience to Anxiety

Friday, August 27, 2010

Suicide epidemic in US military

According to a new Congressional report, one US serviceman commits suicide every 36 hours.

The reasons? "Heightened operational tempo, repeated deployments and insufficient quantity and quality of dwell time."

IAVA has more at the link above.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Video: Fearless Nation PTSD Support Group in Second Life

PTSD News supports fine work being done at Fearless Nation, the first and only PTSD support organization to offer community and support in a virtual reality environment. You can see some of what Fearless Nation offers in this new video:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Online tool helps train employers how to support people with PTSD

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and the Veterans' Employment and Training Service, along with several other agencies and organizations, have come up with an online training tool to help employers learn how they can best work with and support employees suffering from PTSD and TBI.

The online training tool takes about 45 minutes. Here's a more detailed description:

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is educating employers about TBI and PTSD, and working to dispel some of the myths associated with these common conditions. Not all TBIs and PTSD cases are the same, nor are most severe - and simple workplace supports can often help individuals with TBI and/or PTSD succeed in their jobs.

This online training resource is not designed to be a diagnostic tool or a substitution for professional/clinical advice. It is designed to educate and inform HR professionals, hiring managers and employers about TBI and PTSD, and how these injuries may impact employment, while illustrating that employment can play a vital role in the recovery of our wounded warriors. Basic clinical information about TBI and PTSD is offered in addition to scenario-based learning and links to tools and resources. We encourage you to use and share these resources to help ensure a successful employment environment - for employers, employees and co-workers who may be experiencing the impact of TBI and/or PTSD.

For more, click here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Art as healing: "PTSD does not want you to be creative"

The excellent blog PTSD Spirituality has a new article worth reading called Art and Craft Can Heal PTSD Soul Wounds.

I have always felt that art, done in the right conditions, is as important as therapy. Art engages you on a level that talking or physical action alone can not. When I write fiction or poetry, I tough something deep inside of me and learn about myself in the process.

But sometimes I don't want to write something because it's too painful. Too raw. Too emotional. Too real. But then I remember that art is for myself, and it's a safe place to feel those feelings.

But as the article points out, "the more we try to creative, the more we heal."

Because of the nature of the PTSD Spirituality blog, the article brings up spiritual aspects, such as prayer and sanctification, which may or may not be for you. But give the article, and art, a try. You may be amazed what you discover.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The primary, secondary and tertiary effects of PTSD

Bob Trowbridge's article "Secondary and tertiary effects of post-traumatic stress related to war" for Helium (a health & fitness site) does much to illustrate the pains and symptoms of PTSD.

Trowbridge (a spiritual counselor, not a therapist) breaks it down like this:

Primary effects:
Nightmares
Flashbacks
Hypersensitivity
High blood pressure and other physical symptoms
Paranoia
Withdrawal from society

Secondary effects:
The effect on friends and family
The potential for violence

Tertiary effects:
Difficulty rejoining society
Unemployment
Homelessness
Alcohol and drug abuse
Inability to perform in social situations

Trowbridge points out that this three-tiered breakdown of effects is completely artificial. In other words, it's not a diagnostic tool, just a way for us to look at symptom/effects in meaningful clumps that tell a story of the problems PTSDers encounter.

And hopefully, once we understand, proper treatment can begin.

Worth a read.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Yoga for PTSD: A primer for practioners

Yoga can be of tremendous help to many people with PTSD. It teaches relaxation techniques, mindfulness, and how to remain calm in a stressful world.

This article over at The Listening Blog lists presents a very good primer on how and why yoga can benefit PTSDers. It's primarily written for the yoga teacher, but if you're considering yoga yourself, this might be a good place to read up on its benefits.

PTSD & Sleep

Do you have trouble sleeping? Veteran Roy Smith does, thanks to his PTSD. But he has several tips on how to push away the nightmares and get a better night's sleep. Worth a read:

The Effects of PTSD on Sleep

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cops get tips for contacts with persons suffering PTSD

Cops in Augusta, Georgia, recently got a class on how to effectively deal with people who have PTSD.

The article covering the class, and possibly the class itself, focuses too much on veterans, ignoring the fact that others (cops included) can also get PTSD. But the advice is good:

"To help veterans focus, officers are encouraged to speak slowly, maintain eye contact and clearly explain their purpose for being there. They also should ask a person what he sees and hears to determine whether he is disassociating or not."

Here's an interesting parallel the author missed, while discussing why cops need to learn how to manage situations with people with PTSD: "Officers depend on their own hyper-vigilance to survive a shift and rolling up on a jumpy, aggressive person does not bode well." Hyper-vigilance happens to be one of the symptoms of PTSD.

Ga. cops get tips for contacts with persons suffering PTSD

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

HIV experiences increase risk of developing PTSD

A new study out of the UK shows that the experiences related to HIV infection (such as the constant threat of illness or death) can increase the chance of a person developing PTSD. In fact, according to the study, one third of HIV-positive men who participated in the survey met the criteria for diagnosis of PTSD. Witnessing someone else's death from HIV could also be a factor.

Read more:

PTSD Symptoms Common Among People With HIV

Monday, August 16, 2010

Post-traumatic stress not just for soldiers

As I write this blog, I constantly battle the attitude that only soldiers can experience post-traumatic stress disorder. Here's an excellent article that shows how anyone can get PTSD from a traumatic event:

Post-traumatic stress not just plaguing soldiers

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Journalists & PTSD

Journalists often find themselves in sticky situations, and while they may be trained to write about them, they may not be trained to recover from them.

As Rebecca Dolan writes, "unlike emergency responders and soldiers, most journalists aren’t often taught how to recognize symptoms of mental illness or the importance of seeking help."

I like this part of her story, which also applies to all PTSD sufferers: "...journalists need to remember that they are not super human. It’s important to resist self-isolation as social interaction is crucial. Social connection is key to moving past PTSD and other psychological injuries."

Read more:

PTSD: Not just for soldiers anymore

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Can Ryan Seacrest help cure your PTSD?

Ryan Seacrest's production company is casting a reality show to help (or, one might worry, exploit) people with PTSD and other psychological conditions.


Here's the casting call. (For whatever it's worth.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A misguided mindset about PTSD

You probably shouldn't turn to a blog about national security for good information about PTSD. But when Foreign Policy's "Best Defense" blog popped up in my PTSD news alert this morning, I gave it the benefit of the doubt.

Hoo boy.

In discussing the epidemic of veteran suicides, guest author Blake Hall repeats these so-called "valid questions" that a military commander asked him:

"How much of that is self-selection? Were these vets already struggling with problems before the military? Were they already pre-disposed to engage in high-risk activity? How many of them fought in combat?"

In other words, let's distance ourselves as much as possible from any culpability, because the best way to manage these suicides is through minimizing the people who took their own lives.

Then Hall starts talking about a fellow soldier who served under him, and who obviously has PTSD:

"... PTSD, a term I hate, for PTSD is a disease that every veteran suffers from to some degree or another."

What? Really?

Okay, Hall does redeem himself somewhat with this statement:

"We soldiers have been conditioned to never, ever admit we are hurt or suffering. But dealing with the aftermath of war, when you are no longer surrounded by the men who fought with you, when you are no longer working for a chain of command that can give you feedback from a position of authority, when you are alone -- is a battle that far too many of us lose."

...but for this most part, this article isn't helping anyone.

Read it if you feel like it:

What every American needs to know

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How one military dog overcame PTSD

People aren't the only ones vulnerable to PTSD. Animals can get it, too. Take the case of Gina, a military working dog whose experiences during combat left her in pretty tough shape:


In the war, Gina was riding with her handler when an IED went off in the vehicle behind hers. It spooked her. Then, the constant patrols, flash bangs, the sounds of kicking in doors and the IED booms got to her.


"When Gina came back from the Middle East she was so messed up, she didn't want to see anybody," said Master Sgt. Eric Haynes, 21st SFS noncommissioned officer in charge of the military working dog section. "She wouldn't walk through front doors, she didn't want to go inside buildings. She was terrified of everything."

Read more about Gina and her "long, arduous rehabilitation program" here:

Man's best friend not immune to stigmas of war; overcomes PTSD

Monday, July 26, 2010

PTSD and its effect on the family

How does PTSD affect the entire family unit? From spouses to children to parents, it can be devastating.

JD News, a newspaper out of Jacksonville, is running a two-part series on the effects of PTSD on military families. Here's part one:

Families also suffer from effects PTSD

And here's part two:

Programs help educate families about PTSD

(Some of the resources listed in part two are just for people in the Jacksonville area, but others are nation-wide, and all of the advice is worth reading.)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Massage as therapy for PTSD

Insomnia and high blood pressure are just two of the many side effects that PTSD has on your body. Can massage help? According to "touch therapist" Kimberly P. Ledger, the answer is yes, and she's writing a few blog posts for Heal My PTSD to discuss the benefits of massage for PTSDers.

Read her first article here.

Troops Discharged for Mental Illness Up 64 Percent

From the story:

"...discharges due to psychological problems are up 64 percent from 2005, and are now the culprit for one in nine medical discharges.

Discharges among soldiers with a physical and a mental impairment also increased, up 174 percent since 2005.

Mental health discharges include those related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), now estimated to afflict 20 to 30 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans."


Read more:

Troops Discharged for Mental Illness Up 64 Percent

New study shows children are NOT more resilient to trauma

Conventional wisdom tells us that children are more likely to be able to bounce back from the effects of trauma. A new study says that might not be the case:

“...young children and teens not only exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress and depression that are similar to those of adults, but that they may react more strongly to trauma because adults do.”

Read more:

Child Depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rape victim explores PTSD in new book

In her new memoir Denial, Jessica Stern discusses the lifetime of pain caused by her rape at gunpoint back in 1971.



Read more about it here:
Book Notes: Rape victim explores PTSD

Ecstasy & PTSD?

A new study suggests that the drug Ecstasy may have benefits for people with PTSD.

You need to be careful with stories like this, though. A headline like this one -- Ecstasy may be used to treat Veterans with PTSD -- isn't really true, nor does it support the study's actual results and conclusions.

Throwing vets into the headline doesn't even support the study's methods -- "The study group was mostly female victims of child sexual abuse and rape who suffered from PTSD for an average of about 19 years."

Then there's the group who conducted the study -- the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies -- which has a pro-drug focus.

Still, any study of PTSD is welcome. Click the link above for more information on this one.

The Dry Land - A new movie about PTSD

Opening in limited release next Friday, The Dry Land is a new movie about a soldier's battle with PTSD. Here's the movie's website, where you can watch a trailer and find out if it's playing in your area. (It opens in different cities every few weeks after the initial July 30th release in LA and other top markets.)

Also worth reading: the producers' blog, where they write about the film and how people are reacting to it.

The film has already screened for some military and veterans' groups. If you've seen it, let us know what you think!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Women in their 50s more prone to PTSD than men

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) rates peak in women later than they do in men. Researchers writing in BioMed Central's open access journal Annals of General Psychiatry found that men are most vulnerable to PTSD between the ages of 41 and 45 years, while women are most vulnerable at 51 to 55.

Read more:
Women in their 50s more prone to PTSD than men

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A must-read essay on PTSD

In an essay for Health Affairs, retired Army Reservist and Foreign Service employee Ron Capps details his close call with suicide due to his battles with PTSD, as well as the challenges many military personnel face getting treatment. Here's an excerpt about the price he could have paid for receiving psychiatric counseling:


To get—and to keep—a U.S. government security clearance means completing a long form detailing your personal history. There are many intrusive questions, but Question 21 is the one that keeps many soldiers from asking for help:


"In the last 7 years, have you consulted with a health care professional regarding an emotional or mental health condition or were you hospitalized for such a condition? If you answered ‘Yes,’ provide the dates of treatment and the name and address of the therapist or doctor below."


My security clearance had been granted years before, but every five years, everyone who has a clearance has to go through the investigation process again to renew it. If I went into treatment, I would have to answer "Yes" to Question 21 next time on the form. Answering "Yes" would cost me my clearance. Losing my clearance would cost me my job.


Read the rest here:
Back From The Brink: War, Suicide, And PTSD

Friday, July 16, 2010

Paws and Stripes - Helping Dogs Help Heroes

A new non-profit called Paws and Stripes is helping to match New Mexico-area veterans with PTSD and TBI with service dogs.

Local news site KOB.com has a profile of the organization and its founder, veteran Jim Stanek.

New book - Shock Waves: A Practical Guide to Living with a Loved One's PTSD

Shock Waves: A Practical Guide to Living with a Loved One's PTSD



This is the best cover image we can find so far. Click through to read more about the book itself.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Kids and trauma

A new study from China has inspired a wave of headlines like this one:

Dog bites can leave kids with emotional scars too

It's kind of obvious, but yes, traumatic events can cause PTSD, even if they're not combat-related.

According to the study, 19 out of 358 kids who experienced animal bites serious enough to require hospital treatment later showed signs of PTSD. That's about 5%. But 38 of those cases required serious hospitalization, and 10 of those kids were among the 19 who developed PTSD. That's closer to 25% for really serious attacks.

Here's the important factor that didn't make it into the headlines:
...the injury itself might not be the only thing that influences whether a kid gets PTSD - the care the kid gets afterward can play a role too.

"It's every important what happens in that ER, and how doctors and nurses respond," she told Reuters Health. This study, she said, "certainly speaks to the need to attend to the psychological impact of these kids of injuries."
Read more at the link above.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Heroes: Vet crossing US barefoot to call attention to PTSD

Now here's a man who believes in his cause. 60-year-old Vietnam vet Ron Zaleski is planning to walk across America -- barefoot -- to call attention to the need for PTSD counseling for military personnel.

Philadelphia's The Reporter website has a news story and video about the walk:
Vet crossing US barefoot for his comrades

You can also visit Zaleski's website and sign his petition at thelongwalkhome.org

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wounded Times Looks at PTSD Disability Pay

Wounded Times, a must-read blog about PTSD, has an excellent examination of disability pay for veterans, inspired by the recent announcement that the VA will issue new regulations regarding how vets will quality for disability:

Wounded Times: VA to Issue Science-Based PTSD Regulations

Chaplain Kathie, the author of Wounded Times, asks some pretty important questions:

"Would you want to go through combat to end up with $192.50 a week with a 50% disability rating? How about $668.25 for 100%? If you end up with 100% you have to be suffering a lot and watch your life fall apart."

She points out that the vast majority of vets with PTSD only receive 50% disability, worth $770 a month for individuals (and not much more for families). Vets with 100% disability get $2,673 a month, which translates to just $32,076 -- $12k less than the median household income in the U.S.

Extrapolated further, this is about $15 an hour, assuming 52 40-hour weeks per year. A pittance.

As Kathie asks, "Would you risk your life and end up with PTSD to make less than you could make at your local grocery store?"

Anything that gets vets better and faster acceptance of PTSD, like these new regulations promise to do, is a good thing, but as a society, we need to go further.

(And of course, this doesn't even address non-military people with PTSD. That's a whole 'nother issue.)

Current TV documentary focuses on "Grim Toll" of PTSD

Last night, the Current TV network (which doesn't have great coverage on U.S. cable systems) aired "War Crimes," a new documentary on PTSD.

Unfortunately, the documentary focuses on violent crimes committed by vets with PTSD after they return from the war. Obviously, any violent crime is terrible, but we fear that this supports the untrue stereotype that people with PTSD are violent and dangerous.

The link below contains an infographic from the show, illustrating the 43 murders committed by vets with PTSD since 2008 -- out of 1.64 million troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What are your thoughts? Does this documentary tell an important story, or does it present an untrue generalization?

Read more:
Infographic of the Day: PTSD’s Grim Toll At Home

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Self-care: Garden soothes veterans' trauma

The BBC has news about a therapeutic garden which "has been designed with the needs of traumatized veterans in mind."
Glenn Taylor believes it will be of great benefit to traumatised veterans like himself.
"It's an amazing place for reflection and veterans receiving therapy need to reflect - it's part of the healing process,"  he says.
"It's so important when you're receiving treatment to have somewhere to take 20 or 30 minutes to ground yourself, think about what's happened during the day and calm down in a beautiful environment."

Read more: Garden soothes veterans' trauma

Practice: Austin hospital screening badly injured children for PTSD


Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin is now screening the most severely injured children — those who come through the trauma center and are between the ages of 7 and 17 — for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Kids showing signs of needing help dealing with mental or emotional stress from a physical injury are receiving counseling for free, provided their parents give permission.

It’s all part of a study the hospital is doing in which it hopes to better predict which children are more likely to suffer from PTSD, an ailment most commonly thought of affecting soldiers who have been in battle.

Read more:
Austin hospital screening badly injured children for PTSD

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Abused children likely to have PTSD as adults

Kate M. Scott, Ph.D., M.A. Appl.(Clin Psych), and colleagues at University of Otago-Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand, linked national child protection agency records with data from a nationally representative community survey of mental disorders among young adults age 16 to 27. The survey included 2,144 young adults, 221 of whom had a history of child maltreatment as indicated by child protection agency records.

After adjusting for demographic and socioeconomic factors, a history of abuse or neglect was associated with having any mental disorder and with five individual mental disorders—including anxiety, mood and substance abuse conditions—both over a lifetime and in the previous year. The strongest associations were with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Read more:

Abused children appear likely to have mental disorders as young adults

Study: National Guard has higher frequency of PTSD

According to a new study, National Guard members who experienced combat in Iraq have a higher rate of PTSD than soldiers from other branches of the military.


"...diagnosed rates of PTSD with serious functional impairment in the Active Component was 7.7% at three months and 8.9% after a year. For the National Guard, those numbers were 6.7% and 12.4%, respectively."

Read more: PTSD frequency in National Guard soldiers

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tuscon-area vets get free Mindfullness program

Vets with PTSD in the Tuscon, Ariz. area are eligible for a free, eight-week class called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, which will teach "various methods of meditation and yoga, breathing techniques to help calm the mind." From the article -- Tucson, Arizona Local program helps veterans deal with the stress from war -- I'm not sure who's actually offering the class, or what their qualifications are, but mindfulness is a proven technique worth exploring.

If you'd like to know more about mindfulness, here's a good place to start.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may increase dementia risk

“This poorer performance on cognitive testing compared with those without PTSD could be a risk factor for development of dementia because those with worse function may have less cognitive reserve and be at higher risk for cognitive impairment,” the researchers wrote.

In addition, chronic stress may damage or shrink the hippocampus, which is important in memory and learning. If PTSD leads to hippocampal atrophy, this, in turn, may increase risks of cognitive deficits and dementia.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may increase dementia risk | KevinMD.com