What we learn from veterans with PTSD.

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Apparently, veterans do not feel like treatment for PTSD is effective or it could be that they are not comfortable talking about their experiences. Unemployment, wounds, and homelessness, are some factors that some veterans face when they return home that can take a toll on anyone’s mental health.

Approximately 13% of Iraq or Afghanistan veterans and 10% of Gulf War veterans who experienced combat have PTSD, and 11% of Vietnam veterans continue to report PTSD symptoms that impair functioning 40 years after the war (JAMA, 2015). Evidence suggests that therapy works but it also shows that dropout rates are high. Some people with PTSD are not going to treatment. The JAMA study participants included 883 participants and shows that about 30% of the patients did not show improvements.

Doctors don’t even know what patient  preferences are and services are not always available to those that need them. Treatment approaches vary and do not produce good results in patients with comorbities.

Veteran’s outcomes tend to be worsened by extended and repeated deployments. For instance, someone that goes to Afganistan once or twice may come back okay and still have the ability to cope with re-entering civilan life whereas someone who has been in Afganistan three or four tours will likely develop more severe symptoms.

A holistic approach to treatment where doctors and counselors take into account the biological, psychological, social, cultural, spiritual, mental, genetic traits, and history along with a person’s emotions, thoughts, and perceptions and other factors of a person’s life, and include a person’s family life, support system, social role, socioeconomic status, culture, and religion while addressing physiological responses to fear seem to be the best approach to addressing issues that stem from post-traumatic stress.

Strategies that can improve outcomes include raising awareness about PTSD, educating veterans, their families, and the general public about PTSD, lessening the stigmas that surround getting help for PTSD, and finding out what the patient preferences are so that people will want treatment. We need to find out why dropout rates are so high and fix those problems and apply what is learned to PTSD that affects other populations such as children who experience the fostercare system because they are experiencing even higher rates of PTSD than veterans that have fought in wars!

Related articles: The Biological Basis of PTSD

References

JAMA, (2015), Psychotherapy for Military-Related PTSD A Review of Randomized Clinical Trials Article· Literature Review, Journal of the American Medical Association 314(5):489-500 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2015.8370, Retrieved From, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/280666600_Psychotherapy_for_Military-Related_PTSD_A_Review_of_Randomized_Clinical_Trials

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Patty

I love life and people. I am a daughter, mother, and a grandmother.

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