Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Secondary PTSD

We've previously written about Compassion Fatigue, a condition similar to PTSD that takes its toll on caregivers, be they doctors, nurses or family members.

Now, the You Served blog presents 10 tips on living with a spouse with PTSD.

Give it a read. It may help.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

'Virtual Iraq' Simulation Being Tested to Treat PTSD

Can virtual reality (an immersive computer experience) help treat PTSD? There's lost of evidence to support this, and now the Department of Defense is testing a program called "Virtual Iraq" which "is designed to promote a multi-sensory emotional connection to the memory, thus helping the patient be able to gradually face the traumatic experiences that underlie his or her distressing memories after a number of treatment sessions."

Read the DoD's press release about their study here.

Morphine to fight PTSD?

Giving someone morphine soon after they experience a traumatic event could help stave off the development of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a study headed up by the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

According to The Washington Post, "In a study of about 700 troops who were wounded in Iraq, those who received morphine soon after being injured were about half as likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder as those who did not get the drug." (Don't worry, they weren't experimenting on these people, just looking at their medical records.)

The researchers don't know why morphine helped those soldiers: "It is not known whether morphine's apparently protective effect arises directly from the relief of traumatic pain or indirectly by blocking the brain circuits that lay down traumatic memory."

Out of 696 people whose records were examined, 61% of people who received morphine developed PTSD, while 76% of those who did not receive morphine also developed PTSD, "which researchers said translated into a 53 percent reduction in risk," according to the Post.

Can Brain Scans Diagnose PTSD Better Than a Therapist?

PTSD causes specific changes in the brain which can be detected by an imaging technique called magnetoencephalography (MEG), according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota and the Minneapolis VA Medical Center say that PTSD creates a distinct pattern of brain activity, something they observed in a test group of 74 veterans and 250 civilians who had all already been diagnosed with PTSD.

MEG imaging captures the brain's activity in milisecond slices, much faster than would be captured in a CT scan or an MRI.

The military is interested in this test because it could help them pinpoint veterans with PTSD without a therapist's diagnosis.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Wisdom from the Funnies

In 1946, cartoonist Al Capp, himself an amputee, created a autobiographical comic book to offer encouragement to thousands of WWII veterans who lost limbs in the war. The ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive has reproduced the entire comic book here, and it's still a powerful and creative piece of work that might have new relevance for the soldiers coming home from today's wars. Worth a look.

From the book:

Losing a hunk of yourself isn't the best thing that can happen to you -- and it isn't the worst.

The worst thing that can happen to you is to make the missing hunk more important than yourself -- than all the rest of you that's left -- by kidding yourself into thinking that its loss sets you apart from -- (or to) -- other people.