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:
High blood pressure and other physical symptoms
Withdrawal from society

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

Tertiary effects:
Difficulty rejoining society
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