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? 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.