Monday, September 10, 2012

Today: "Creative Expression and Personal Epiphanies"

Fearless Nation PTSD Support founder Colleen Crary will present a Health-N-Mind meeting today entitled "Creative Expression and Personal Epiphanies."

It takes place today (9/10) at 2pm EDT / 11am PDT (-8 GMT) at Health Info Island in the 3D virtual environment of Second Life.

If you have a Second Life account, you can attend this meeting for free at:

Upcoming topics for these weekly meetings include:
  • Sept 17 – To Shy to Try? Fell like a wallflower? How to Light Up the Room!
  • Sept 24: Love Hurts. – Feeling the sting of cupid’s arrow? How to mend a broken heart.
  • And coming soon: 10 ways to reduce daily downers
  • Be a Savvy healthcare consumer
  • The gift of anger
  • Technology is great but where’s my flying car?

Friday, August 31, 2012

Martial arts for PTSD [Video]

Here's a great report from students at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Arizona about how one martial arts studio is helping veterans learn to deal with their post-traumatic stress disorder.

Program to help veterans with PTSD from Cronkite News on Vimeo.

Do you find this blog helpful? Please consider a donation to Fearless Nation PTSD Support so we can continue to bring you news and information about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

First Lady supports hiring veterans [Video]

First Lady Michelle Obama appeared on David Letterman's program last night, where she reported that unemployment among veterans has decreased 20% in the past year.

Letterman himself mentioned that some employers might be frightened of hiring veterans, especially those with PTSD. She replied that it's important not to stigmatize PTSD.

Here's more on the Obama administration's Joining Forces program.

Do you find this blog helpful? Please consider a donation to Fearless Nation PTSD Support so we can continue to bring you news and information about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Can a game trigger post-traumatic growth?

This TED Talk by game designer Jane McGonigal is worth 20 minutes of your time. As she says, "A traumatic event doesn't doom us to suffer indefinitely. Instead, we can use it as a springboard to unleash our best qualities and lead happier lives."

Today: Food is Medicine

Fearless Nation PTSD Support founder Colleen Crary will host an online discussion entitled "Food is Medicine" today at 2pm EST, 11am PST. She'll present an overview of how a healthy body supports a healthy brain = mood = positive mental health.

Full details at the link!

Do you find this blog helpful? Please consider a donation to Fearless Nation PTSD Support so we can continue to bring you news and information about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Monday, July 30, 2012

Japan's Supreme Court recognizes PTSD as an injury

Perpetrators of violent crimes in Japan can now be held responsible for resulting PTSD as well as any physical injuries they may have caused. The Japanese Supreme Court issued the ruling after hearing the case of a man who kidnapped and held prisoner four women for a year.

The Japan Daily Press has more:

Japan Supreme Court rules that PTSD equal to injury under Penal Code

Sunday, July 29, 2012

This week's Fearless Nation webinars: Applying the breaks, PTSD stigmas, bullying and more

Fearless Nation PTSD Support will host six free online discussions this week covering topics like applying the breaks when triggered, challenging the media stigma against PTSD, and replacing the "feel-good" chemicals in your body. One session will be held in the virtual 3-D world of Second Life while the other five will be held as webinars.

Full information is below, at the Fearless Nation website here, and at this Facebook event


9 AM (PDT, -8 GMT)
Empower PTSD Support Meeting - TOPIC: "Applying the Brakes When Triggered"
Presentation and Discussion
Meeting Number: 623 512 286  <-- Copy and paste this number in the login page to join the meeting.
Meeting Password: #1Fearless

11 AM (PDT, -8 GMT)
Health-N-Mind Meeting: "Stop Bullies at Work and Play!" Be a "bully buster"!
Where: The Second Life® virtual world
LOCATION: Health Info Island, Health and Wellness Pavilion

6 PM (PDT, -8 GMT)
Insights Recovery Meeting - TOPIC: "How to Replace 'Feel Good' Chemicals in Your Body"
Meeting Number: 627 879 959  <-- Copy and paste this number in the login page to join the meeting.
Meeting Password: #1Fearless


9 AM (PDT, -8 GMT)
Insights Recovery Meeting - TOPIC: "How to Replace 'Feel Good' Chemicals in Your Body"
Meeting Number: 622 141 546  <-- Copy and paste this number in the login page to join the meeting.
Meeting Password: #1Fearless

11 AM (PDT, -8 GMT)
Timely Topics PTSD Support Discussion: "STIGMA: Challenging Media PTSD Stereotypes"
Meeting Number: 627 262 070  <-- Copy and paste this number in the login page to join the meeting.
Meeting Password: #1Fearless

6 PM (PDT, -8 GMT)
Empower PTSD Support Meeting - TOPIC: "Applying the Brakes When Triggered"
Presentation and Discussion
Meeting Number: 624 116 029  <-- Copy and paste this number in the login page to join the meeting..
Meeting Password: #1Fearless

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

UK PTSD rate lower than US

British soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan have displayed a lower rate of PTSD than American soldiers. Why? For one thing, their UK soldiers were, on average, older than the American soldiers. There were also fewer UK reservists and UK soldiers served shorter tours of duty.

Time has more on this subject:

Why Is the UK’s PTSD Rate So Much Lower Than the U.S.’s?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Delayed trauma: PTSD decades later

Stars and Stripes reports that a major life event like retirement can cause decades-old traumas to come to the surface, creating anxiety, anger and other PTSD-related symptoms. In particular, this is starting to affect some Vietnam vets who did not get proper treatment when they returned from war.

Mental health experts say...delayed trauma isn’t unusual. Major life events such as retirement often trigger personal reassessment and forgotten memories.

But for Vietnam veterans who returned decades ago to a harsh reception and limited mental health options, that could mean a new wave of stress and serious psychological issues as their generation enters retirement age.

Many of these Vietnam veterans (who are now approaching retirement age en masse) threw themselves into their work when they returned from the war as their way of coping with their trauma. As their work lives end, the untreated trauma is now becoming an issue.

Stars and Stripes reports that the VA is not yet prepared to deal with the thousands of new requests for treatment they could receive in the next few years.

Read more:

Retirement might unleash PTSD symptoms in Vietnam veterans

Monday, July 9, 2012

60% of Egyptians suffering from PTSD

A survey has shown that 60% of Egyptians are suffering from PTSD following 18 months of political turmoil. Of that 60%, nearly half witnessed violence in the streets. 

Digital Journal has the story:

Video: 60% of Egyptians suffering from PTSD

Thursday, June 21, 2012

1 in 8 heart patients suffer PTSD

Any life-threatening event can leave a person with symptoms of PTSD. Now a new study finds not only that a heart attack can lead to PTSD but PTSD can double a person's risk of future cardiac events and death. Read on...

One in eight people who suffer a heart attack or other acute coronary event experience clinically significant symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a meta-analysis of 24 studies led by Columbia University Medical Center researchers. The study also shows that heart patients who suffer PTSD face twice the risk of having another cardiac event or of dying within one to three years, compared with those without PTSD. The findings were published today in the online edition of PLoS ONE:

"While most people think of PTSD as a disorder of combat veterans and sexual assault survivors, it is also quite common among patients who have had a severe coronary event," said lead author Donald Edmondson, PhD, assistant professor of behavioral medicine at CUMC. "Not only are such events life-threatening, but their psychological impact can be devastating and long lasting."

PTSD is an anxiety disorder initiated by exposure to a traumatic event such as combat, disaster, or sexual assault. Common symptoms include nightmares, avoidance of reminders of the event, and elevated heart rate and blood pressure.

Each year, about 1.4 million people in the United States experience an acute coronary syndrome (ACS), a term used to describe any condition brought about by sudden reduced blood flow to the heart. Numerous small studies have suggested that ACS-induced PTSD is common and can have serious health consequences, but its prevalence is not known.

To get a better idea of the scope of the problem, Dr. Edmondson and his colleagues performed the first combined review, or meta-analysis, of clinical studies of ACS-induced PTSD. The 24 studies in the meta-analysis included a total of 2,383 ACS patients from around the globe.

The study found that overall 12 percent, or one in eight, of the patients developed clinically significant PTSD symptoms, with four percent meeting full diagnostic criteria for the disorder.

"Given that some 1.4 million ACS patients are discharged from U.S. hospitals each year, our results suggest that 168,000 patients will develop clinically significant PTSD symptoms. That is quite substantial. However, there is abundant evidence that psychological disorders in heart patients are underrecognized and undertreated. In fact, underdiagnosis may be even more pronounced in cardiac practices than in other types of medical practices," said Dr. Edmondson.

"This is a serious problem for individual patients, as well as for the healthcare system as a whole," he said. "PTSD appears to double a heart patient's risk for a second cardiac event and for death, which adds hundreds of millions of dollars to annual health expenditures."

"Fortunately, there are good treatments for people with PTSD," Dr. Edmondson said. "But first, physicians and patients have to be aware that this is a problem. Family members can also help. We know that social support is a good protective factor against PTSD due to any type of traumatic event."

"The next step is further research to assess whether treatment can reduce ACS-induced PTSD symptoms and reduce the associated risk for ACS recurrence and mortality," said Dr. Edmondson.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Four free PTSD webinars this week

Fearless Nation PTSD Support will be holding four free online webinars this week. The "What is PTSD" sessions will present the latest information about post-traumatic stress disorder and its treatment.

Becoming an expert in PTSD means you feel more "in control" when you understand what is happening in your mind, brain and body. Learn it. Own it. Take Back Your Power!

The webinars will be held on Thursday, June 21, and Friday, June 22, at 10am and 5pm PST.

Space is limited and attendance will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Full information can be found here:

Fearless Nation PTSD Support - Invitation To Join

Monday, June 18, 2012

Should PTSD qualify a vet for the Purple Heart?

Source: U.S. Army
The Purple Heart is one of the nation's highest honors, going to U.S. soldiers who have been wounded or killed during combat. But although combat PTSD can leave a veteran disabled, it does not make that person eligible to receive the Purple Heart. 

Should that be changed? Middletown Journal writer Barrie Barber looked at the debate and found a wide range of responses, like these two:

"If it's a true case of PTSD from combat, I think it should be awarded. Sometimes you can't just put a Band-Aid on a wound that's in your head." -- Air Force veteran Thomas Bush Jr.

"The Purple Heart is awarded for a physical wound received while engaged with an enemy force. PTSD is considered an illness and not an injury." -- VFW national spokesperson Joseph E. Davis

Read more:

Purple Hearts for PTSD debated

Friday, June 8, 2012

PTSD on the rise in Mexico

 Rapidly increasing levels of violence in Mexico have brought a "spike" in PTSD rates in that country.

The Inter-Press Service reports:

"This disorder is spreading rapidly in populations like that of the capital and other cities in Mexico, where PTSD levels associated with violence are already high. We find similar patterns: people's stress levels are directly proportional to their exposure to the mass media," which transmit terror and panic, Mauricio Meschoulam, an academic at the Jesuit-run Ibero-American University, told IPS.
Read more:

Mexico's Spiral of Violence Causes Spike in PTSD

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

PTSD linked to urinary incontinence in female veterans

A new study finds that female veterans with PTSD have a greater level of urinary incontinence than other women their ages.

This is part of a multi-year study into urinary incontinence (UI) in female veterans. The researchers wrote about the reasons for the study when it was launched in 2009: "Urogenital symptoms, including urinary incontinence and frequency, commonly affect women of reproductive age and negatively impact quality of life. Such urinary symptoms are among the top 10 problems reported to primary care providers by women."

From the abstract of this paper:

This cross-sectional study enrolled women 20 to 52 years of age registered at 2 midwestern US Veterans Affairs Medical Centers or outlying clinics within 5 years preceding study interview. Participants completed a computer-assisted telephone interview assessing urogynecologic, medical, and mental health. Multivariable analyses studied independent associations between stress and urgency UI and depression and posttraumatic stress disorder.

Nine hundred sixty-eight women mean aged 38.7 ± 8.7 years were included. Of these, 191 (19.7%) reported urgency/mixed UI and 183 (18.9%) stress UI. Post-traumatic stress disorder (odds ratio, 1.8; 95% confidence interval, 1.0–3.1) but not depression (odds ratio, 1.2; 95% confidence interval, 0.73–2.0) was associated with urgency/mixed UI. Stress UI was not associated with post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.

This research does not yet identify a reason for this increased rate, but the paper calls for additional research "to better understand the complex associations between UI and psychologic symptoms and the neurobiologic basis of urgency UI."

Read more:

PTSD linked to urinary incontinence in female veterans

Monday, June 4, 2012

Andy Warhol Museum, Hospital team up to help children with PTSD

The Andy Warhol Museum and Allegheny General Hospital have entered a unique partnership to help children coping with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Doctors from the hospital's Center for Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents said they are always looking for ways to help their young patients.

"They get stuck on the experience that they've had and they have a hard time getting passed this so they have nightmares and bad dreams," said Dr. Anthony Mannarino. "They are in their math classes trying to concentrate on doing their math, and they have a bad image of their father beating them or their mother getting beaten."

As with soldiers who return from war, children who suffer from PTSD can suffer from other health problems.

"The PTSD that kids have is the same kind that soldiers have coming back but the trauma they experience can be different," Mannarino said.

One of the ways doctors and the Andy Warhol Museum are working together to help patients is by teaching participants how to analyze and interpret facial features. Experts said they use the lessons to help the children with socialization.

"We actually started looking at facial recognition for children with autism because kids who are on the spectrum have a hard time recognizing facial cues. It's one of the reasons they have a hard time socializing," said Andy Warhol Museum curator Tresa Varner.

The therapy also includes a hands-on studio experience that allows the children to create their own portraits through silk screen printing, digital video and animation.

"You can better express some of your feelings through drawings and painting and so forth than you might be able to do so in words," Mannarino said.

Today: 'Bend Not Break - Flexible Thinking and the Healthy Mind'

Fearless Nation PTSD Support founder Colleen Crary, M.A., will give a free online presentation today entitled "Bend Not Break - Flexible Thinking and the Healthy Mind."

The meeting will be held today, June 4, in the virtual world of Second Life at Health Info Island at 11am PST (-8 GMT).

If you have a Second Life account, you can attend the meeting here:

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Must-read:War leaves PTSD scars on Native American vets

Today's must-read article discusses the disproportionate level of PTSD in Native American veterans, which has been exacerbated by culture, lack of resources, and other factors.

"While members of many American Indian tribes serve in the military in disproportionately higher numbers than other ethnic groups, studies suggest they also suffer PTSD with greater frequency."

War leaves PTSD scars on Native American vets | Center for Health Reporting

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

John Huston's censored 1946 PTSD documentary restored, posted online

In 1946, famed director John Huston (The Maltese Falcon) made a 58-minute documentary about PTSD (still called "shell-shock" at the time) called Let There Be Light.  The film was quickly censored and hidden away. It didn't even get its first public viewing until 1980, by which time the remaining prints had seriously deteriorated. It's now been restored by the National Film Preservation Foundation and posted online, where it can be viewed or downloaded. The Foundation has also posted extensive notes on the film, discussing its history, production, and restoration.

Check it out:

National Film Preservation Foundation: Let There Be Light (1946)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

45% of new vets seek disability

This Associated Press article is today's must-read:

Almost half of new vets seek disability

According to the article, 45% of vets from Iraq and Afghanistan are now seeking disability benefits related to injuries or PTSD, a big rise from the 21% of vets from the Gulf war.

The big jump comes from a lot of different factors, including better body armor and medical techniques that have increased survival rates and better bombs that do more damage.

A better awareness of PTSD is also cited.

Meanwhile, 560,000 veterans have been waiting 125 days or more for disability claims to be processed, mostly due to sheer volume but also because the average vet is claiming 8 to 9 (and as many as 14) different ailments.

Give the article a read. The statistics are staggering and sobering.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Brain shrinkage in Japanese tsunami survivors with PTSD

Survivors of last year's Japanese tsunami who have PTSD from the disaster experienced a shrinking of their orbitofrontal cortex -- that's the part of the brain that is involved in decision-making and the regulation of emotion.

Brain shrinkage seen in Tohoku PTSD cases | The Japan Times Online

This is just the most recent evidence that shows PTSD is a very real, physical injury.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Houston housing development for vets with PTSD to be the first of its kind

MyFoxHouston reports on a new housing development that could eventually house up to 160 vets with PTSD. Residents will get job training and family counseling while they live there. 

Read more:

First of its kind housing development for vets with PTSD - MyFoxHouston

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Study shows first case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in blast-exposed military personnel

Investigators from Boston University (BU) and the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System have shown evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in brain tissue from blast-exposed military service personnel. Laboratory experiments conducted by the investigators demonstrated that exposure to a single blast equivalent to a typical improvised explosive device (IED) results in CTE and long-term brain impairments that accompany the disease. They also found that the blast wind, not the shock wave, from the IED blast leads to traumatic brain injury (TBI) and long-term consequences, including CTE.

This research, which represents the first case series of postmortem brains from U.S. military personnel who were exposed to a blast and/or a concussive injury, will be published online May 16 by Science Translational Medicine.

Lee Goldstein, MD, PhD, associate professor at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston University College of Engineering, and Ann McKee, MD, professor at BUSM and director of the Neuropathology Service for VA New England Healthcare System, led this international collaborative study and are the senior co-authors.

CTE, which can only be diagnosed postmortem, is a progressive neurodegenerative brain disorder that has been reported in athletes with multiple concussions or subconcussive injuries. In early stages, CTE is characterized by the presence of abnormal deposits of a protein called tau in the form of neurofibrillary tangles, glial tangles and neuropil threads throughout the brain. These tau lesions eventually lead to brain cell death. CTE has clinical features in common with TBI, including psychiatric symptoms and long-term cognitive disability involving memory and learning deficits. TBI can impact military personnel exposed to an explosive blast and may affect approximately 20 percent of the 2.3 million servicemen and women deployed since 2001.

In this study, investigators performed comprehensive neuropathological analyses on brain tissue from four military service personnel with known blast exposure and/or concussive injury. They compared these results with brain tissue samples from three young amateur American football players and a professional wrestler, all of whom had a history of repetitive concussive injury, and four samples from comparably-aged normal controls with no history of blast exposure, concussive injury or neurological disease.

The investigators found that CTE neuropathology in the brains of blast-exposed military veterans was similar to that found in young athletes with repetitive concussion and consistent with what has previously been observed in brain samples from other athletes with a history of repetitive concussive injury.

"Our results showed that the neuropathology from blast exposure, concussive injury, or both were virtually indistinguishable from those with a history of repeat concussive injury," said McKee, who is the director of the Brain Banks for BU's Alzheimer's Disease Center and the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, which are based at the Bedford VA Medical Center. McKee said that these findings indicate that TBI caused by different factors may trigger similar disease pathways in the brain.

"The neuropsychiatric symptoms of CTE that have previously been associated with athletes diagnosed with CTE could also be attributed to military personnel who were exposed to blast," said Goldstein, who also is affiliated with the BU Photonics Center and served as the study's lead author.

To examine the impact of a single blast exposure, the investigators collaborated with leading experts in blast physics, experimental pathology and neurophysiology at Boston University, VA Boston Healthcare System, White River Junction VA Medical Center, New York Medical College, Fraunhofer Center for Manufacturing Innovation, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Oxford. The team's experimental data showed that one blast comparable to that experienced by military service personnel in the field resulted in both neuropathological and behavioral evidence of CTE. Surprisingly, the long-term impairments in brain function, including impaired learning and memory, were observed just two weeks after exposure to a single blast.

The blast wind from an IED can reach a velocity of up to 330 miles per hour, which is greater than the largest wind gust ever recorded on earth. "The force of the blast wind causes the head to move so forcefully that it can result in damage to the brain," said Goldstein.

Based on the results, the investigators went a step further and explored how they could prevent the brain injury. They demonstrated that immobilizing the head during a blast exposure prevented the learning and memory deficits associated with CTE that occurred when the head was not immobilized.

"Our study provides compelling evidence that blast TBI and CTE are structural brain disorders that can emerge as a result of brain injury on the battlefield or playing field," added Goldstein. "Now that we have identified the mechanism responsible for CTE, we can work on developing ways to prevent it so that we can protect athletes and our military service personnel."

The study results provide a pathway for the development of novel diagnostic strategies for blast-related brain trauma, as well as to treat and rehabilitate those who have been exposed to blast and/or a concussive injury.

Monday, May 14, 2012

This week's Fearless Nation PTSD Support meetings to discuss stress, compassion fatigue, the workplace and more

Five great topics are on the agenda for this week's meetings from Fearless Nation PTSD Support:
  • "5 Ways to Beat Daily Stress" 
  • "100% Proof: Get Your Rightful Benefits" 
  • "Compassion Fatigue in Spouses, Children, Family and Therapists"
  • "Changing Unhealthy Behaviors"
  • "PTSD and the Workplace: What Would You Like Employers to Know"

Click here for full information

Women more likely to suffer PTSD after being discharged from ICU

Women are more likely to suffer post-traumatic stress than men after leaving an intensive care unit (ICU), finds a new study published in BioMed Central's open access journal Critical Care. However, psychological and physical 'follow-up' can reduce both this and post-ICU depression.

Patients in the ICU often suffer post-traumatic stress, anxiety, or depression due, not only to the illness or trauma that put them there, but to the very nature of the ICU and life-saving treatment. As a result, follow-up schemes have been put in to place to help alleviate these psychological problems. Researchers from the Karolinska University Hospital Solna and the Karolinska Institutet compared patient's recovery from 2006, before a follow-up scheme was started, with that of patients in 2007 and 2008.

The scheme consisted of non-compulsory meetings at three, six and 12 months after being discharged from ICU with a nurse, physician and a physiotherapist, revisiting the ICU, and in severe cases being referred to a psychiatric unit for further therapy.

Before the use of the follow-up scheme women had much higher scores on the Impact Event Scale (IES), which measures post-traumatic stress, than men. For women, after the introduction of follow-up, these scores were significantly reduced. However, the scheme had no effect on the IES score of men.

Dr Peter Sackey, who led this study, explained, "In general, for the same event, women are twice as likely to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, recover more slowly, and are more prone to suffer long-term effects. We found this was also true in ICU survivors. The women with the highest IES scores were the ones who were most helped by the follow-up scheme. While it is not clear whether the scheme only helps patients at severe risk of PTSD, it does mean that these people have access to the treatment they need."

The study is available here:

Critical Care | Abstract | Gender differences in psychological morbidity and treatment in intensive care survivors - a cohort study

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Today's must-read: Connecticut Paves New Path In Treating Traumatized Children

Connecticut is changing the way it treats kids in the child-welfare system: "the state Department of Children and Families, working with experts in childhood trauma, is using a multi-million dollar federal grant to increase from 16 to about 26 the number of outpatient community clinics that practice trauma-focused therapy, and to put it in play at DCF's most difficult facilities, the former Riverview Children's Hospital, reorganized as the Albert J. Solnit Psychiatric Center, and the Connecticut Juvenile Training School."

Read more:

Traumatized Children Treated For PTSD -

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

National Veterans Foundation predicts "tsunami of PTSD-related criminal cases"

The National Veterans Foundation is about to release a new book that it says will help guide defense attorneys, judges, expert witnesses and others during PTSD-related criminal court proceedings.

Why is there a need for this book? From their press release: "History tells us that as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, the numbers of troubled veterans flooding into our criminal courts will swell. Emerging research reveals a pattern of traumatized combat veterans surfacing in the criminal justice system following every major American conflict. Unfortunately, veterans of past conflicts were often treated quite harshly when their psychological injuries led them into criminal behavior."

From their web page about the book: "This project was not initiated to create a 'get out of jail card' for veterans on trial. The purpose was to create the best defense and back it up with efforts to provide ongoing post-trial treatment."

The book, Attorney's Guide to Defending Veterans in Criminal Court, will be released soon and is available for the pre-publication price of $100.

What do you think? Is PTSD going to result in a lot of vets ending up in court? Is this danger over-stated? Have you been mistreated in the courts? Please feel free to share your thoughts and experience.

The Business Case for Hiring Veterans

Here's a good follow-up to the discussion we started a couple of days ago about hiring people with PTSD. It's focused on military vets, but it still poses good advice both for employers and potential employees. Check it out:

The Business Case for Hiring Veterans | The Military Wire -

Army asks "why don't more soldiers seek treatment for PTSD?"

From a recent U.S. Army report:
  • Less than half of soldiers who report symptoms of PTSD receive the care they need, according to the U.S. Army.
  • Of those that do start treatment, 20-50% drop out.
  • Soldiers display a lack of trust of mental health professionals.
  • They think psychological problems will "work themselves out"
  • They think treatment should only be a last resort.
Read more:
US Army examines why some soldiers avoid PTSD care, strategies to keep them in treatment

What do you think? Are there reasons why you or someone you know has avoided or left treatment? Or reasons why you stayed?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Canadian Police Association: System for treating PTSD isn't good enough

The Ottawa Citizen reports: "The head of the Canadian Police Association says post-traumatic stress disorder is a major issue for police, and the RCMP shouldn't believe its current system for treating members afflicted by PTSD is good enough."

Read more:
Police association says PTSD a major issue for officers

Friday, May 4, 2012

What advice would you give about hiring employees with PTSD?

This article -- Advice for Employers on Hiring Vets with PTSD -- is a pretty good start, but it doesn't go deep enough or give any specifics. Let's come up with a more practical list -- post your thoughts and ideas in the comments!

And don't forget to visit Fearless Nation PTSD Support on Facebook!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Study suggests blood pressure meds may have benefit for PTSD symptoms

Common blood pressure medications called ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors or ARBs (angiotensin receptor blockers) could -- potentially -- have some benefit in treating PTSD, according to a new study.

This is just the first stage of testing these medications for PTSD, though. It was not a clinical trial, so take this news with a grain of salt. (Unless you're on salt restrictions because of high blood pressure.)

As for this study, the authors took a population sample of 5,000 low-income people in Atlanta, 505 of whom had been exposed to some traumatic event. Of those 505 people, 180 met the criteria for PTSD. Out of the total sample of 5,000 people, 98 were taking ACEs or ARBs, 26 of whom had PTSD. Those 26 people reported having fewer PTSD-related symptoms, including hyperarousal, avoidance/numbing, and intrusive thoughts.

Further study will be required.

While it's waaaaay too early to say that taking these medications can reduce PTSD symptoms, it's probably worth noting that it's important to check your blood pressure. Stress and anxiety can raise blood pressure levels, which can have further health effects.

Read more:

Can Blood Pressure Meds Lessen PTSD Symptoms? | Psych Central News

Monday, April 30, 2012

This week's Fearless Nation peer support meetings

Education - Support - Recovery - Anonymous - FREE
Live - Online - In Real Time with Real People! 
Sign up FREE with our 3D Web Provider) to join in!

You can also enter the direct portal above or Facebook to join our meetings!
All times in Pacific Standard Time

WEDNESDAY, May 2nd 2012

“100% Proof: Get Your Rightful Benefits”
As a healthcare consumer, employee, veteran, find out how to get 100% proof that you have PTSD and take this proof in hand to benefits administrations, insurance companies – Or your lawyer. *Voice and text.

WEDNESDAY at 12 PM  and 5 PM PST, -8 GMT
“Compassion Fatigue in Spouses, Children, Family and Therapists”
Find out why our friends and families turn away from us and don't want us to discuss openly our traumatic experiences. Also: why some therapists don't want to believe what happened to us. Our loved ones and therapists are only human--how can we maintain positive relationships with them without giving them secondary trauma and vicarious trauma? *Voice and text.

THURSDAY, May 3rd 2012

“Compassion Fatigue in Spouses, Children, Family and Therapists”
Find out why our friends and families turn away from us and don't want us to discuss openly our traumatic experiences. Also: why some therapists don't want to believe what happened to us. Our loved ones and therapists are only human--how can we maintain positive relationships with them without giving them secondary trauma and vicarious trauma? *Voice and text.

~* Changing Unhealthy Behaviors *~
THE INSIGHT GROUP is all about changing unhealthy behaviors, addictions and habits that keep us from moving forward in life. Explore why we do unhealthy things, and how we can take back the control over our lives. Not a 12-Step Program: No public confessions, no coins, just straight-up talk, group support, education and proven methods. *Voice and text.

ANONYMOUS, FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC - Pass It On! Bring Friends and Family!


ABOUT Our 3D Interactive Chat Room
Our Web Worlds are worlds within your computer; just like you would be walking over the street in the real world, you can walk around and navigate through these 3D web sites using a representation of yourself, called an “avatar”. You can communicate with other people’s avatars, and interact with other users and the environment.

This all happens in real-time. When you see other avatars, the people operating them are at their home or office computers, like you. When people talk to you they are real human beings sitting behind their computer, using the 3D web site just as you are. It just like a chat room--but more interactive.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

This week's Fearless Nation online PTSD peer support meetings

 PTSD PEER SUPPORT MEETINGS THIS WEEK – Live online and in real time!
All times in Pacific Standard Time (-8 GMT)

“Affect Control: Coping With Social and Professional Gatherings"
Reconnection with others is a main tenet of PTS recovery. Learn how to interact positively in social, professional gatherings, cope with holidays, and feel safe in crowded public places. * Voice and text.

“What is PTSD—And What Is NOT PTSD?”
Some people claim to have PTSD when they do not. That can make people with real PTSD look bad—and increase the stigma we face. Let’s look at what differentiates PTSD from other conditions, so we can be taken seriously by our communities, the legal and insurance industries, and society at large. Voice and text.*

“Affect Control ~ Learning to Socialize Again in a Positive Way”
Having trouble controlling runaway emotions and anxiety to “keep your cool” in social settings? We'll discuss ways to regain control over our fears and behaviors in public and private--without becoming rigid or inflexible—or chasing people away. It's a fine line--let's learn how to walk it! * Voice and text.

~* Changing Unhealthy Behaviors *~
Voice and text.*

ANONYMOUS, FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC - Pass It On! Bring Friends and Family!

Graphic novel examines PTSD and a fallen soldier's family

Shooters -- a new graphic novel by authors Brandon Jerwa and Eric Trautmann and artist Steven Lieber -- is scheduled to hit the shelves today.

The book is a semi-autobiographical look at the family of a soldier killed in Iraq. It is based on Trautmann's brother-in-law. 

Seattle's KOMO News has an interview with the creators: New graphic novel examines the horrors of war 

Meanwhile, USA Today has a preview

Monday, April 23, 2012

Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma

Today's must-read details "intergenerational transmission of trauma," which affects, in this case, the children of people who survived the genocide that took place in Cambodia decades ago.

Read on: PTSD from Cambodia's killing fields affects kids who were never there -

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

This week's PTSD peer support meetings from Fearless Nation PTSD Support

PTSD Peer Support Meetings This Week – Live online and in real time!
All times in Pacific Standard Time (-8 GMT)

Wednesday at 11 AM PST, -8 GMT
“Affect Control: Coping With Social and Professional Gatherings
Reconnection with others is a main tenet of PTS recovery. Learn how to interact positively in social, professional gatherings, cope with holidays, and feel safe in crowded public places.

Wednesday at 12 PM PST, -8 GMT
This week's topic: “What is PTSD—And What Is NOT PTSD?”:
Some people claim to have PTSD when they do not. That can make people with real PTSD look bad—and increase the stigma we face. Let’s look at what differentiates PTSD from other conditions, so we can be taken seriously by our communities, the legal and insurance industries, and society at large. Voice and text.*

Wednesday at 5 PM PST, -8 GMT
Thursday at 11 AM PST, -8 GMT
This week's topic: “Affect Control ~ Learning to Socialize Again in a Positive Way”
Having trouble controlling runaway emotions and anxiety to “keep your cool” in social settings? We'll discuss ways to regain control over our fears and behaviors in public and private--without becoming rigid or inflexible—or chasing people away. It's a fine line--let's learn how to walk it!

Thursday at 5 PM PST, -8 GMT
This week's topic: Changing Unhealthy Behaviors"
The Insight Group is all about changing unhealthy behaviors, addictions and habits that keep us from moving forward in life. Explore why we do unhealthy things, and how we can take back the control over our lives. Not a 12-Step Program: No public confessions, no coins, just straight-up talk, group support, education and proven methods. Voice and text.

Anonymous, Free and Open to The Public - Pass It On! Bring Friends and Family!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

PTSD genes identified by UCLA study

Why do some persons succumb to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) while others who suffered the same ordeal do not? A new UCLA study may shed light on the answer.

UCLA scientists have linked two genes involved in serotonin production to a higher risk of developing PTSD. Published in the April 3 online edition of the Journal of Affective Disorders, the findings suggest that susceptibility to PTSD is inherited, pointing to new ways of screening for and treating the disorder.

"People can develop post-traumatic stress disorder after surviving a life-threatening ordeal like war, rape or a natural disaster," explained lead author Dr. Armen Goenjian, a research professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. "If confirmed, our findings could eventually lead to new ways to screen people at risk for PTSD and target specific medicines for preventing and treating the disorder."

PTSD can arise following child abuse, terrorist attacks, sexual or physical assault, major accidents, natural disasters or exposure to war or combat. Symptoms include flashbacks, feeling emotionally numb or hyper-alert to danger, and avoiding situations that remind one of the original trauma.

Goenjian and his colleagues extracted the DNA of 200 adults from several generations of 12 extended families who suffered PTSD symptoms after surviving the devastating 1988 earthquake in Armenia.

In studying the families' genes, the researchers found that persons who possessed specific variants of two genes were more likely to develop PTSD symptoms. Called TPH1 and TPH2, these genes control the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that regulates mood, sleep and alertness -- all of which are disrupted in PTSD.

"We suspect that the gene variants produce less serotonin, predisposing these family members to PTSD after exposure to violence or disaster," said Goenjian. "Our next step will be to try and replicate the findings in a larger, more heterogeneous population."

Affecting about 7 percent of Americans, PTSD has become a pressing health issue for a large percentage of war veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The UCLA team's discovery could be used to help screen persons who may be at risk for developing PTSD.

"A diagnostic tool based upon TPH1 and TPH2 could enable military leaders to identify soldiers who are at higher risk of developing PTSD, and reassign their combat duties accordingly," observed Goenjian. "Our findings may also help scientists uncover alternative treatments for the disorder, such as gene therapy or new drugs that regulate the chemicals responsible for PTSD symptoms."

According to Goenjian, pinpointing genes connected with PTSD symptoms will help neuroscientists classify the disorder based on brain biology instead of clinical observation. Psychiatrists currently rely on a trial and error approach to identify the best medication for controlling an individual patient's symptoms.

Serotonin is the target of the popular antidepressants known as SSRIs, or selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, which prolong the effect of serotonin in the brain by slowing its absorption by brain cells. More physicians are prescribing SSRIs to treat psychiatric disease beyond depression, including PTSD and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Also see:

Monday, April 2, 2012

Traumatic Stress Linked to Heightened Inflammation; Possible Link to Heart Disease

Greater lifetime exposure to the stress of traumatic events was linked to higher levels of inflammation in a study of almost 1,000 patients with cardiovascular disease led by researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco.

In the first study to examine the relationship between cumulative traumatic stress exposure and inflammation, the scientists found that the more traumatic stress a patient was exposed to over the course of a lifetime, the greater the chances the patient would have elevated levels of inflammatory markers in his or her bloodstream.

“This may be significant for people with cardiovascular disease, because we know that heart disease patients with higher levels of inflammation tend to have worse outcomes,” said lead author Aoife O’Donovan, a Society in Science: Branco Weiss Fellow in psychiatry at SFVAMC and UCSF.

The study was published electronically in February in Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

The authors looked at exposures to 18 different types of traumatic events, all of which involved either experiencing or witnessing a direct a threat to life or physical integrity, in 979 patients age 45 to 90 with stable heart disease. They then measured a number of clinical markers of inflammation that circulate in the bloodstream, and found a direct correlation between degree of lifetime stress exposure and levels of inflammation.

Five years later, they measured the surviving patients’ inflammation markers again, and found that the patients who had originally reported the highest levels of trauma at the beginning of the study still had the highest levels of inflammation.

“Even though we lost some study participants because they died, we still observed the same relationship in those who remained,” O’Donovan said. “This suggests that it wasn’t just the people who were the most sick at the outset who were driving this effect.”

Senior investigator Dr. Beth Cohen, a physician at SFVAMC, emphasized that the effect remained even after the researchers adjusted for psychiatric diagnoses such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression.

“Not everyone who is exposed to trauma develops PTSD,” said Cohen, who also is an assistant professor of medicine at UCSF. “This study emphasizes that traumatic stress can have a long-term negative impact on your health even if you don’t go on to develop PTSD. It also tells us that, as clinicians, we need to think about not just which diagnostic box someone might fit into, but what their lifetime trauma exposure has been.”

Although the study did not probe the potential causes for the link between lifetime stress and inflammation, O’Donovan offered one possible explanation.

“We know that in the aftermath of traumatic stress, people become more sensitive to threats,” she said. “This is actually pro-survival, because if you’re in a dangerous environment, that alertness can help you avoid future harm.”

However, she explained, people with heightened threat sensitivity may also show increased inflammatory responses. “What we think is happening is that people with a history of multiple traumatic stress exposures have increased inflammatory response more often and for longer periods, and so inflammation becomes chronically high,” she said.

Cohen noted that “this is a study of older people, and the cumulative effects that decades of traumatic experiences have on their bodies. If we could intervene with young people,” she said, “using techniques that we know help fight stress, such as exercise, yoga and other integrative health techniques, it would be interesting to know if we might be able to prevent some of this.”

The study subjects were all participants in the Heart and Soul Study, an ongoing investigation into the link between psychological factors and the risk of heart events and mortality in patients with stable heart disease. The Heart and Soul study is directed by Dr. Mary Whooley, a physician at SFVAMC and a professor of medicine at UCSF.

Co-authors of the study are Dr. Thomas Neylan of SFVAMC and UCSF and Thomas Metzler, M.A., of SFVAMC.

The study was supported by funds from the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Irene Perstein Foundation, the Department of Veterans Affairs and a Society in Science: Branco Weiss Fellowship. Some of the funds were administered by the Northern California Institute for Research and Education.

Friday, March 30, 2012

New Study Finds 911 Dispatchers Are at Risk for PTSD

The stress of taking and responding to 911 calls can be traumatic for dispatchers, a new study finds. Taking calls about events such as officer shootings or children drowning in pools could have a lasting effect, according to the researchers, although only 3.5% of those surveyed reported symptoms severe enough to be considered PTSD.


911 Dispatchers At Risk For PTSD, Study Finds

Monday, March 26, 2012

Presentations on the neurobiology of PTSD this week

PTSD Nonprofit presents educational lectures on the negative effects of PTSD on the brain

New research shows how PTSD alters brain structure affecting the entire body

Fearless Nation PTSD Support announces a special presentation this week that explore the physical alterations of the brain by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The lecture is part of the March 2012 Brain Injury Awareness month, a nationwide event. The presentation will be repeated six times between Tuesday, March 27 and Friday March 30th. The lectures will take place in the 3D web worlds of SpotOn3D (soon to be named World Works) and Second Life, free online services anyone can access from the web or Facebook.

"New medical imaging makes it very clear now that PTSD severely alters the shape and function of the human brain, making it a brain injury" states Colleen Crary, founder of Fearless Nation and herself a PTSD survivor. "This presentation is created for the layperson to understand, with examples of brain changes that occur after trauma. We encourage anyone struggling with PTSD to join us for these meetings."

Since 2009, Fearless Nation PTSD Support has made it a top priority to create a free, easy-to-access place for PTSD survivors to become educated about PTSD, no matter their geographical location. Weekly meetings address PTSD symptom management, consumer information to make smart decisions about care, addiction recovery, and include takeaway materials and techniques to practice to manage post trauma.

This presentation will take place Tuesday at 11 AM, 12 PM and 5 PM Pacific Standard Time (U.S.), Wednesday at 12 PM and 5 PM PST, and Friday at 1 PM PST. "We welcome PTSD survivors, their spouses, families, friends, and clinicians," Crary says. "Understanding that PTSD is a real injury helps banish the misinformation and stigma surrounding this ‘hidden wound’."

Details on these meetings and easy instructions for joining the meetings can be found on the Fearless Nation PTSD Support web site

For more information on Fearless Nation PTSD Support, or to volunteer or make a donation, visit

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New study: Just 60 seconds of combat impairs memory

Just 60 seconds of all-out physical exertion in a threatening situation can seriously damage the memories of those involved for many details of the incident, according to a new study of police officers.

Police officers, witnesses and victims of crime suffer loss of memory, recognition and awareness of their environment if they have had to use bursts of physical energy in a combative encounter, according to scientists.

Researchers, led by Dr Lorraine Hope of the University of Portsmouth, found that less than 60 seconds of all-out exertion, as might happen when an officer is forced to chase-down a fleeing suspect or engage in a physical battle with a resistant criminal, can seriously impair their ability to remember details of the incident – or even identify the person who was involved. Even officers in top condition are not immune to the rapid drain of physical prowess and cognitive faculties resulting from sustained hand-to-hand combat.

The findings, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, are a stark warning to police officers, police chiefs and the courts, according to Dr Hope, a Reader in applied cognitive psychology of the university's Department of Psychology.

She said: "Police officers are often expected to remember in detail who said what and how many blows were received or given in the midst of physical struggle or shortly afterwards. The results of our tests indicate it may be very difficult for them to do this.

"As exhaustion takes over, cognitive resources tend to diminish. The ability to fully shift attention is inhibited, so even potentially relevant information might not be attended to. Ultimately, memory is determined by what we can process and attend to.

"The legal system puts a great deal of emphasis on witness accounts, particularly those of professional witnesses like police officers. Investigators and courts need to understand that an officer who cannot provide details about an encounter where physical exertion has played a role is not necessarily being deceptive or uncooperative. An officer's memory errors or omissions after an intense physical struggle should not unjustly affect his or her credibility."

The research, conducted on police officers in Winnipeg, Canada was coordinated and funded by the Force Science Institute. The research team in Canada included Dr Lorraine Hope (University of Portsmouth), Dr Bill Lewinski (Force Science Institute) and specialists from the Metropolitan Police in the UK.

Researchers recruited 52 officer volunteers (42 males, 10 females), with an average of eight years on the job. All officers were fit and healthy and engaged in regular exercise.

During an initial briefing, the officers were given background information about a recent spate of armed robberies in the city. The briefing included details of how the robberies were conducted and witness descriptions of the perpetrators. Half of the officers then engaged in a full-force physical attack on a 300lb hanging water bag and the others (a control group) were assigned as observers. Officers selected their own "assault movements" on the bag attack — punches, kicks, and/or palm, elbow, and knee strikes—and were verbally encouraged by a trainer during the task. They continued the assault on the bag until they no longer had strength to keep going or until they were breathless and struggling to continue.

The next part of the test required the officers to approach a trailer that a "known criminal" was suspected of occupying. On entering the trailer, the officer found themselves in a realistic living area where a number of weapons, including an M16 carbine, a revolver, a sawn-off shotgun and a large kitchen knife were visible. After a short delay, the "target individual" emerged from another room and shouted aggressively at the officer to get out of his property. The individual was not armed, but several of the weapons were within easy reach.

Dr Hope found those who had been asked to exert themselves physically remembered less about the target individual and made more recall errors compared to the control group of observers. The officers who had been exerted also recalled less about the initial briefing information and what they did report was less accurate. Officers who had been exerted also reported less about an individual they encountered incidentally while en route to the trailer. While more than 90 per cent of non-exerted observers were able to recall at least one descriptive item about him, barely one-third of exerted officers remembered seeing him at all.

Everyone remembered seeing the angry suspect in the trailer, but non-exerted observers provided a significantly more detailed description of him and made half as many errors in recall as those who were exhausted. These observers were also twice as likely to correctly identify the suspect from a line-up.

However, another striking aspect of the findings showed that exerted officers were able to register threat cues in the environment to the same degree at non-exerted officers.

These new findings reveal that although exerted officers were able to pay attention to the threatening aspects of the scene, their ability to then process other aspects of the interaction was affected. As a result of this, some information may only have been processed weakly or not at all – resulting in an impaired memory for many details of the encounter.

A PDF of the paper can be found here

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Walmart therapy?

Going to Walmart can be pretty scary under the best of situations, but what if you also have PTSD? 

The Pentagon is apparently telling vets with PTSD that one way they can confront and overcome their anxieties is to go visit Walmart stores and other big-box retailers that are "often busy and noisy, and some people may be hidden behind things — and all those are perceived as dangerous," according to a recent story from Bloomberg News.

What do you think? Do Walmart's low, low prices offer a way to lower PTSD symptoms?

Read more:

Pentagon tries Walmart therapy to help traumatized troops

Monday, March 19, 2012

9 in 10 firefighters suffer PTSD

A new study out of New Ben-Gurion University in Israel shows that 9 in 10 firefighters showed symptoms of PTSD (24%) or partial PTSD (67%).

The study was conducted by Dr. Marc Lougassi, who is not just a doctoral student at the university but is also a firefighter himself. It examined 342 active Israeli firefighters who had been exposed to traumatic events since 1997. The study excluded any firefighters with histories of psychiatric treatment or chronic pain, as well as anyone who had suffered a head injury.

According to Dr. Lougassi, "Professional firefighters are frequently exposed to extreme stress during their work in emergency situations. In addition to the physical challenges of firefighting, they must evacuate burned and injured victims or bodies. Their involvement in traumatic events exposes them not only to the pressures stemming from the traumatic event itself, but also to post-traumatic emotional expressions that result in secondary traumatization."

In addition to "normal" firefighter duties, Lougassi said that firefighters in Israel are frequently "exposed to additional traumas such as war and terror strikes."

It is unclear if Lougassi's study was published in a scientific journal or if it was just announced by the university.

Read more:

Ninety Percent of Firefighters Exhibit Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Don't blame PTSD for Afghan shooting

While many in the media have speculated that PTSD was behind a soldier's recent shooting rampage in Afghanistan which left 16 people dead, it's unlikely that this is really the case."Post-traumatic stress disorder has a cluster of symptoms, and violence, or violence against, others is not usually considered part of that diagnosis," Paul Newhouse, a professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University and a former Army psychiatrist, told CNN. "So I think it's more likely that we're going to discover that there was some either psychotic illness or delusional condition or some evidence that this person was more seriously deranged or impaired than we would typically see in PTSD."


Mental illness more likely behind Afghan shooting than PTSD, psychiatrist says -

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sinead O’Connor diagnosed with PTSD

Sinéad O'Connor has been one of my favorite performers for more than 20 years, but her obviously dysfunctional personal life has often overshadowed her music and professional life. Most recently, O'Connnor was hospitalized for depression, where she finally received a diagnosis that she has post-traumatic stress disorder. This comes years after previous diagnoses of depression or being bipolar.

“There’s no drug treatment for PTSD. Sufferers get bashed because we’re ‘crazy’, but crazy is a term of abuse. We need to be compassionate,” she recently told People magazine, as recounted in a short article -- Sinead O’Connor hates to be called ‘crazy’ -- printed in dozens of news sources around the world this weekend.

O'Connor was abused as a child, her mother died in an automobile accident, and she's experienced numerous other traumas over the years. Hopefully this diagnosis will be a step toward recovery for her.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Study: Cannabis use slows PTSD recovery

A new study from the National Center for PTSD shows that marijuana use slows recovery for people with PTSD. In fact, of the veterans studied, those who had what the study calls "cannabis use disorder" had PTSD symptoms as bad as people who had received no treatment at all.

The study found that while cannabis temporarily relieved veterans' PTSD-related anxiety, the anxiety came back right after cannabis use was discontinued. The study suggests that PTSD patients be taught adaptive coping techniques before they are diagnosed medical marijuana.

Read more:

Cannabis Use May Prolong PTSD Symptoms

For more information on PTSD empowerment techniques, as well as free online addiction recovery meetings, visit Fearless Nation PTSD Support.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Study asks, does outdoor exercise help PTSD?

Does getting outside help reduce the symptoms of PTSD? A new study will examine the potential link between outdoor trips and veterans' mental health.

A press release from the Sierra Club appears below:

U-M, Sierra Club to study links between outdoor experience, veterans’ mental health

SAN FRANCISCO – For six years, the Sierra Club has organized outdoor trips for American military service members, veterans and their families. Now, the national environmental group is working with the University of Michigan on a research project to measure how those trips affect veterans’ individual mental health.

U-M researchers at the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE) will analyze the results of surveys given to about 120 veterans before and after upcoming six-day excursions. While scientific research increasingly shows a strong link between mental and health benefits and the natural environment, the Sierra Club wanted to know if its programs, which are offered at no or reduced costs, were producing the same results.

“The Sierra Club has been organizing outings with military families and veterans for years, and we know anecdotally from participants that outdoor experiences have been vital to their reintegration,” said Stacy Bare, National Military Families and Veterans Representative for Sierra Club. “Securing quantitative data that reinforces these beliefs will support our efforts to make these types of experiences available on a larger scale.”

Coordinating the research work at U-M are SNRE Professor Rachel Kaplan and research scientist Jason Duvall.

“The overall objective of this research is to explore whether contact with the natural environment is associated with improvements to mental health and psychological functioning of veterans,” Kaplan said.

The project will take about 18 months to complete, but started last fall when the surveys were written and tested. The veteran’s excursions begin in March.

Through a selective process, Sierra Club chose four partner organizations to execute quality outdoor experiences: Higher Ground (Sun Valley, Idaho); Wasatch Adaptive Sports (Snowbird, Utah); Wilderness Inquiry (Minneapolis, Minn.); and Women’s Wilderness Institute (Boulder, Colo.).  Each outing will provide at least four days of an outside experience. Some programs are free, while others require the participant to cover transportation and up to $100 for tuition.

The excursions vary from fly fishing, kayaking and whitewater rafting to backpacking and paddling. There are two courses specifically for female veterans, and one for military spouses, partners or caregivers. For dates and contact information, visit

“By now the empirical literature is substantial with numerous studies documenting the diversity of health and well-being benefits related to the nearby natural environment,” Kaplan said. “Studies examining the impact of wilderness experiences have suggested that more extended nature experiences can also offer important benefits. Given these potential benefits, exposure to natural environments and outdoor recreation may be particularly helpful to military veterans and active duty personnel since studies indicate that these individuals are more likely to experience serious mental health issues, such as depression and PTSD.”

The Sierra Club and its partner organizations will collect and maintain the data and administer the surveys. This process is designed to assure that U-M researchers cannot identify the participants. Participants will be asked to complete a survey about one-week prior to the recreation experience. Short-term changes in psychological health, social health and coping/problem-solving abilities will be assessed by asking participants to complete a survey a week after the experience.

To assess whether changes were sustained, a second post-test will be given three to four weeks after the excursion. The pre-test, initial post-test and second post-test will be administered using an online survey tool.

“How durable are any changes? Does the kind of program matter? Is the composition of the group important? Does the benefit of an outdoor program relate to the veterans’ military experiences?” Kaplan asked. “We expect this research to be a useful step in exploring such questions.”

About Military Family and Veterans Initiative:
Sierra Club's Military Family and Veterans Initiative (MFVI), formerly Military Families Outdoors (MFO) is part of Mission Outdoors, the Sierra Club’s campaign to provide access to outdoor experiences to people of all ages and backgrounds.  MFVI makes available a variety of opportunities for American Military Service Members, Veterans, and their families to experience the freedom of the land they defend.

About the U-M School of Natural Resources and Environment:
The School of Natural Resources and Environment's overarching objective is to contribute to the protection of the Earth's resources and the achievement of a sustainable society. Through research, teaching, and outreach, faculty, staff and students are devoted to generating knowledge and developing policies, techniques and skills to help practitioners manage and conserve natural and environmental resources to meet the full range of human needs on a sustainable basis.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Crochet as PTSD therapy?

Knit one, heal two?

Crochet is hardly the most macho hobby in the world, but maybe that's why it can actually be a good activity for people with PTSD. An article on Crochet Concupiscence calls crochet "a form of self-kindness," saying its slow pace can help put you into a meditative state that will in turn reduce anxiety and the severity of flashbacks.

Read on:

Crochet Is Healing … Even for People With PTSD

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Free online PTSD empowerment & addiction recovery meetings start this week

Fearless Nation PTSD Support starts a weekly schedule of online PTSD empowerment and addiction recovery meetings this week.

Weekly meetings that start with a brief introduction to a PTSD topic, followed by peer-led discussion, Q & A, demonstrations, proven strategies and techniques for controlling PTS symptoms and challenges. Recover from post trauma and become stress-resistant! control and manage daily stress, learn flexibility & resiliency. Education and discussion. Voice and text.

Weekly meetings to address substance abuse and addiction, including peer support and education on coping with addiction issues. Not a 12-Step Program. No "public confessions" and no coins. Simply education and proven methods for beating addictions. Voice and text.


Friday, January 6, 2012

Fearless Nation open house today

The nonprofit Fearless Nation PTSD Support (which this blog supports) will have an orientation open house and tour of its new online retreat today, January 6, at 1pm and 5pm PST.

Fearless Nation operates in Spot On 3D, which is a combination of social networking and 3D graphics to create a virtual reality environment that is conducive to meetings, education, and PTSD recovery.

The online retreat contains an expansive library about PTSD and will be the location for weekly peer-discussion meetings. Several new online tools will be rolled out over the coming weeks.

Spot On 3D is free, but it will take you a little while to create your account. Check out this page for instructions.

Full information on the open house and other meetings can be found here.

You can also find Fearless Nation on Facebook.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Two free online PTSD presentations today

Fearless Nation PTSD Support will hold two free online presentations and discussions on "What is PTSD?" today at 1pm and 5pm PST.

The lectures, by Fearless Nation founder Colleen Crary, will focus on the basics of PTSD as well as the latest research in recovery. The presentations will be followed by a discussion and Q and A session.

Later this week, Fearless Nation will also host peer-led discussions on empowerment and addiction recovery, as well as an open house of the Fearless Nation PTSD Support virtual retreat.

Full information on the presentations and discussion groups is available here.

Pre-registration is required for the events, which gives you time to join SpotOn 3D, the new social networking home of Fearless Nation.