Antidepressant

What are Some of the Physiological Manifestations of PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a result of severe trauma. The trauma experienced is usually one that has threatened a person's safety. PTSD is seen in people returning from fighting in a war, or people who have been victims of violence or a natural disaster.

It’s normal to feel traumatized by significant life events such as surviving a severe car accident. It becomes pathological when the feelings of trauma, anxiety, panic, or sadness don’t fade with time. People who experience PTSD may feel like they are forever changed and suffer constant panic attacks, loss of sleep and social isolation.

Trauma and prolonged stress inevitably has a negative impact on overall health. PTSD has been linked to more physician visits in veteran populations.

Continue Reading

Family

Why Military Homecomings can be Harder Than Goodbyes

This guest article from YourTango was written by Dr Amy James.

You've seen the pictures of men and women of the military rushing off planes and buses to greet their spouses and children. The smiles, the tears, the hugs and the fanfare warm the heart and cause tears to flood the eyes.

But what happens after the cameras are put away? What happens after the homecoming festivities are over? Do things go back to pre-deployment state or are they forever changed?

As a clinical psychologist who served in the United States Air Force, and as the spouse of an active duty Marine, I can personally and professionally report that for many, the homecoming is harder than the goodbye.

Continue Reading

General

Men in Uniform and Women’s Psyches

My friend and I are always bonding over our love for guys in plaid shirts. I don’t know what it is, but the trademark print definitely induces a soft spot and brings smiles. Maybe it alludes to a down-to-earth persona, or an overall feeling of coziness?

In any case, that train of thought got us to thinking about the allure of certain attire and how it can influence impressions (whether we’re conscious of it or not).

A classic example is men in uniform, and since I’ve experienced Fleet Week in New York City, I can pretty much attest to this (rather universal) theory.

So what are the psychological implications of men in uniform?

Continue Reading

Depression

Understanding the Alarming Rate of Suicide Among Soldiers

A report released by the Pentagon earlier this year revealed a disturbing statistic:  A soldier is more likely to die from suicide than war injuries.

Among active troops, suicide rates increased 18 percent from last year.  Rates among veterans were also at distressing levels, with a veteran dying by suicide every 80 minutes, according to an estimate from the Department of Veterans Affairs and reported in this month’s Monitor on Psychology.

When faced with a problem of these proportions, it is vital to understand what factors increase the likelihood of suicide and which interventions are the most effective.

In response, the Army has prepared training for soldiers and families -- to help them recognize signs of suicidal behavior, and to inform them of interventions and ways to access support. And this past August, President Obama signed an executive order that strengthened suicide prevention efforts for service members and veterans.

Continue Reading

General

Why Powerful Men Cheat

Both men and women cheat -- regardless of race, age or stature, according to Terri Orbuch, author of Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship. In fact, about 32 percent of married men and 20 percent of married women report being unfaithful, she said.

But when powerful men -- most recently CIA Director General David Petraeus -- admit to infidelity, we’re often taken aback. (Or maybe some of us aren’t that shocked, after all.)

Petraeus joins a long line of philanderers in prominent positions: Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton and John Edwards, just to name a few.

But regardless of whether you’re surprised to hear these men strayed, the question is the same: Why?

Continue Reading

Disorders

Joining the Army? You’re More Likely to Die by Suicide than Combat

In a sad commentary about the state of affairs of a modern army, the U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said on Wednesday that there are "still huge gaps" in the way mental disorders are diagnosed within the military.

With over 150 active military suicides so far in 2012, if you're in the U.S. military, you're more likely to have died by your own hand than you were to have died in combat.

This, then, is apparently not a good time to be in the military.

Farah Mohamed, writing for McClatchy Newspapers, has the story.

Continue Reading

General

In Honor of the Fallen 2012

Memorial Day is a solemn occasion to remember the fallen who have given our nation the ultimate price that can be paid -- their very lives -- for our country, and in the name of democracy. While we mark the day with outdoor barbeques and get-togethers with family and friends, we should try to take a moment to remember the real purpose of this day.

I give thanks for the hundreds of...
Continue Reading

General

VA Lied About Wait Times

Up until Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) claimed that 95 percent of the vets are seen within 14 days after contacting them for mental health issues if not in crisis. We now know that's a lie.

Federal investigators revealed yesterday that half the veterans who seek out mental health care in the VA system waited about 50 days -- not 14 -- before receiving a full evaluation. That's not just a tiny lie. That's a lie covering up a wait time that is 350 percent greater than the VA's original claims. A wait time that clearly demonstrates that demand is outstripping supply of qualified mental health professionals.

But wait, it gets better. Because that's not the only thing the VA has been fudging the numbers about.

Continue Reading

General

VA Ups Mental Health Clinicians by 1600, But Is It Enough?

I applaud the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) decision last week to increase its mental health staffing in facilities by nearly 10 percent across the board, adding up to 1,600 new clinicians -- psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and more. (My sources within the VA indicate most of these positions will be LPC and Master's level clinicians -- not psychologists or psychiatrists.)

It's a good step forward as the military struggles with the hundreds of thousands of returning vets who have increasing mental health needs. Most of the new hires -- about 1,400 -- will be clinicians that work directly with vet patients.

But let's also put this into some perspective, too. According to its website, the VA operates 172 hospitals across the United States, and 837 outpatient clinics. That's 1,009 places where a vet can go to get help. That means that, on average, each clinic or hospital will get 1.4 new clinicians.

One and a half new clinicians per facility? Not nearly as impressive.

Continue Reading

General

Sex and the Secret Service: A Drop in a Larger Bucket

As a therapist, author, and treatment expert in the area of problem sexual behavior and sexual addiction, I have been privileged to provide multiple educational programs for US Military Chaplains and Military Family Advocacy therapists worldwide, trainings specifically related to the growing concern of problem sexual behavior by US servicemen and women -- both on and off base. 

The current drama now playing out in the media related to US Secret Service agents’ procurement of prostitutes while on assignment is without question the tip of the iceberg of a concern that is both under-recognized and misunderstood by both military leaders and the general public.

Continue Reading

Disorders

Mindfulness and the Military: Does Self-Acceptance Help Veterans?

“The seed of suffering in you may be strong, but don't wait until you have no more suffering before allowing yourself to be happy.” 
~Thich Nhat Hanh

 “You have to make the mind run the body.”
~General George S. Patton Jr.

A recently published article in the Journal of Clinical Psychology by Kearney, McDermott, Malte, Martinez, and Simpson (2012) may have broad implications for veterans suffering with symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

These researchers demonstrated that engagement in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) showed significant improvements after six months in reducing soldiers' symptoms of PTSD, depression, behavioral activation (the ability to engage in activities to achieve a goal in spite of aversive symptoms), and self-acceptance. 

Continue Reading