Sunday, July 7, 2013

Combat PTSD in a nutshell

Combat PTSD in a nutshell
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 7, 2013

There are several things that need to be understood on Combat and PTSD. Whenever I try to explain this, I usually get an impatient person say "In a nutshell what is it?"

There are different types of PTSD simply because there are different causes. Within those causes also comes other factors. Was it an event that happened once or was it continual? Was it a natural event or manmade? When you have an abuse survivor, they have a different type of PTSD than someone after surviving one attack by a stranger.

Just as important to talk about is the type of PTSD people get from their dangerous jobs. Police, firefighters and emergency responders are close to combat veterans because their jobs expose them on a continual basis. When it isn't happening, they have to worry about the next minute when it could.

Firefighters could be in the Fire House sitting down for dinner and talking about the game they watched one second and then the alarm sounds. Adrenaline rushes through them and they know they will be heading into danger. For them their job is not just a job. It is part of their identity. It is why they will travel across the country when a total stranger but also another firefighter loses their life in the line of duty.

Police officers could be driving to grab some takeout on their dinner break when the call comes in and they have to respond to a shooting. They never know what the next second will begin. Their jobs are also part of their identities. Just as with firefighters they will travel many miles to honor the sacrifice of one of their own.

When they serve in the military or citizen soldiers, as long as they are enlisted, they also know the next second could be something that changes everything.

Civilians have an easier time understanding PTSD caused by traumatic events in daily life but they are not as able to understand the difference between what they experience from what responders are struck by. This comes close to explaining the difference.
Even Without Stress, PTSD Effects Persist in Brain Regions
Psych Central
By RICK NAUERT PHD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D.
May 20, 2013

Emerging research on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) finds that specific areas of the brain may show effects of trauma even in non-stressful situations.

Prior imaging studies of people with PTSD have shown that these brain regions can over- or underreact in response to stressful tasks, such as recalling a traumatic event or reacting to a photo of a threatening face.

Researchers now believe chronic trauma can inflict lasting damage to brain regions associated with fear and anxiety.

They are reluctant to admit they need help since their jobs caused it but they have connected to those jobs. Most have never thought of doing anything else. Since it is a part of them and they do not want to do anything else, but the job caused the damage, they feel lost. What if they admit they need help and then end up losing the only job they ever wanted? Think that can't happen? Then you haven't read about losing their jobs because of it. It happens too many times. It happens more often in the military when they are no longer considered "fit for duty" and are discharged. If you doubt that, then you need to read the latest bill by Senator Joe Donnelly.
This is part of it. "That’s an annual review designed to track whether a servicemember is “fit” to serve. The pilot program would expand that review to include a more detailed mental health review and to identify risk factors for mental illness so that servicemembers can receive preventative care and help."

It was bad enough when Congress decided to fund the "resilience" training and "prevention" programs over and over again when the number of suicides and attempted suicides went up but congress yet again did not understand the harm they were doing trying to do something good.

Much like a spouse will just think if they "love them good enough" they will be happy again, it is delusional and dangerous.

Resilience told them they can train their brains to be tough so if they had issues they assumed it meant they were mentally weak and didn't train right. Sure it sounded good to the planners but sounded totally different to the people getting the message. Joe Donnelly's bill will end up preventing seeking help.

Not that help has been that great since Donnelly also released the fact that 57% of the suicides came after they sought help. It also meant that after billions were spent every year, 43% did not seek help.

Help works but it has to be the right type of help. Someone may actually think they are helping by saying "get over it" but that doesn't work. Just as many veterans get drunk to fall asleep, they ignore the fact it isn't being asleep but it is passing out. It has to treat the whole veteran/responder. They are tied to their jobs by body, mind and spirit. Leave anything out and treatment does not work properly. They are their jobs so when you threaten to end it, you are ending part of them.

Simple as that. In a nutshell responders need a lot more than just addressing PTSD caused by their jobs. They need to be sure they can keep doing those jobs that are as much a part of them as their heads.

They need to be reminded of why they wanted to do those jobs in the first place and that it was for good reasons. Until we stop pretending a better than nothing approach will suddenly work we will keep losing the responders showing up when we need them. By the way, active duty members civilian jobs are usually as first responders back home. From National Guards, to Reservists, Law Enforcement and Firefighting. Understand it better now? Then you understand it better than Congress does.