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 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

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 |

Would you want PTSD noted on your driver's license?

That's your option under a new law in Georgia.

Service Members Can Opt for PTSD Notation on License

From the article: "Lawmakers hope this will help avoid traumatic encounters with law enforcement and raise awareness for the disorder."

Friday, July 2, 2010

Don't try this at home

Crystal meth studied as possible therapy for PTSD

Lukowiak said he’s also interested in how to make the thoughts “disappear.” Such research could be useful, for example, when treating soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD & Fireworks

As we head into the Fourth of July, news venues are pointing out that not many veterans will be showing up for fireworks celebrations.


Minnesota Public Radio