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, 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.