Thursday, June 21, 2012

Army finally acknowledges Combat PTSD is different!

Well that didn't end well. Given the latest reports, he still doesn't really get it. The suicide numbers are up and so are the attempted suicides.

Why is he still in the position he's in with these kinds of results?

Don't tell my husband but after reading what Col. Castro had to say, I think I'm in love! Most of what you'll read in this article will seem to be something you read before. You have. But not from someone in the military. It has all been on this blog but largely ignored by the people who have publicity, power and money. I think they may really have a chance of saving the lives of our troops and helping them heal if this guy is on the job.

I suggest when you are done reading all of this you click the link to read the rest because there is a lot more.

Army research looks at new PTSD treatment
June 20, 2012
By Rob McIlvaine

Photo Credit: Courtesy photo
Col. Carl Castro, director of the Military Operational Medicine Research Program.

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 20, 2012) -- While there are no simple cures for post-traumatic stress disorder, a leading military researcher said progress is being made with a new treatment method and a number of recent studies.

Col. Carl Castro, director of the Military Operational Medicine Research Program, has been funding studies into post-traumatic stress disorder, known as PTSD, over the past five years, and he said the results are beginning to come in.

"I really think the next eight to nine months are going to be the most exciting as the data comes on line and we can start saying, okay, this is really working, we really know what we're doing here, let's do this," Castro said.

Castro's program funds studies into PTSD at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Fort Detrick, Md.

"Some of the early initial data," Castro said, "looks like we can really treat Soldiers in a two-week compressed time frame. And then we're also looking to see about follow-up, modifying the treatment as we go: the grief, the anger, the second guessing."

Traditionally, he said, psychotherapy is one session per week for 10 weeks. But with the new compressed time frame the Army will use individual and group therapy because Castro wants to take advantage of the natural bonding and cohesion that exists within the military to facilitate recovery.


"There's no 'take this drug and you're cured.' There's no, 'come talk to me for 10 minutes and you're cured,' or 'Go to this web link and go through this 20-minute training and you're cured.' There's none of that although people will promise that. I can assure you that does not exist. If it did exist, I'd be the first one saying let's do that," Castro said.

Castro said PTSD can result from many different kinds of exposures: rape, physical assault, earthquakes, national disasters and combat.

"Our current treatments, both psycho and drug therapies, were developed to treat rape and assault victims and had never been validated for use for combat-related PTSD.

"So one of the first things we did was to fund a huge baseline of studies to confirm that the current treatments are effective for treating service members with combat-related PTSD," Castro said. "We wanted to first establish a very solid baseline. We funded these studies about four or five years ago, and they are just now winding up."

As a result it does look like the psycho therapies are effective, but they are not as effective for treating combat-related PTSD as they are for treating rape and sexual assault victims with PTSD.


"Doctor Amy B. Adler and I wrote a paper on why combat-related PTSD is very different than rape or sexual assault PTSD. If you look at the diagnostic criteria for PTSD, it implies that there are no symptoms or reactions present prior to the traumatic event, so all of the reactions and symptoms occur after the event," he said.

In the military, many of the symptoms and reactions that are part of the diagnosis of PTSD are present before a traumatic event ever occurs, he said. For example, having sleep problems and sleep difficulties is a symptom and reaction to trauma.

"But in the military when you deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan or anywhere, your sleep is probably already disrupted. So you're probably already not sleeping well prior to ever being exposed to a traumatic event," he said.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, or DSM, is the criteria by which mental health diagnoses are made.

It's done through the event and the reaction to the event, Castro said. So, the DSM says what should happen when a person is confronted with a traumatic event, they should be horrified, helpless and freeze.

"But Soldiers don't do that. When they're in combat and they see things, their training kicks in, they go on auto pilot and they function. So, even the immediate reaction is very different. And the symptoms can be very different, but if the symptoms are already present before the event, how can the trauma be the cause of those symptoms and reactions?" he asked.


There are symptoms and reactions missing from the DSM that Soldiers often talk about, like extreme anger, grief, second guessing. Castro said the nature of impairment for Soldiers is often quite different than for civilians. The DSM says things such as work, family and life should be disrupted.

"But because of the military structure, Soldiers are still able to show up for work, perform their jobs and carry on, but still have all the symptoms: drinking problems, nightmares; so we call that suffering while functioning," he said.

Castro noted that when Soldiers leave the Army, the military life goes away and then those Soldiers now as civilians come unraveled and they end up going to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Soldiers are expected to be exposed to traumatic events. They train for it, prepare for it and the Army has them sign wills in case something happens.

Nobody expects to walk down the street and be sexually assaulted or attacked. If there's a dangerous area of town, people stay away.

"But in the military, by its very nature, Soldiers go to dangerous places, so they prepare and train for it," Castro said.

For people not in the military, the traumatic event is unexpected, it's unwanted, it's discrete, it's a single event. Unlike the military, where it's expected, there's multiple and varied events that occur over time, and quite honestly, Castro said, a lot of Soldiers are looking forward to going into combat to prove their courage, and see if they've got what it takes.


"The first incidence of this happening was at Fort Carson, Colo., where Soldiers were being dismissed with personality disorders and saying it wasn't related to PTSD, then they'd end up in a Veterans Administration medical hospital. The VA would then say 'this is absolutely post-traumatic stress disorder,'" he explained.

"This is an important distinction because if you have a personality disorder it's an administration separation from the military, but if you have PTSD, it's a medical board disability separation and that's where the money, etc., comes into play," Castro said.


He said that changing the name is not going to reduce stigma because Soldiers aren't stupid.

"You could call it apple and pineapple salad and people would say, oh, that means you have PTSD.

It's the same thing around the Army, he said. For instance, the Army has Soldier Resilience Centers as the places to go for mental health issues.

"Soldiers know that's where mental health is. They know you go there if you have a mental health problem. You're not going there to build your resilience; they know this," he said.

It's not going to reduce stigma, he said, and it's not going to fool anybody.

Changing the "D" to an "I", isn't going to help the Soldier, at all. It doesn't make the problem go away by calling it an injury.

read more here

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