Are drugs the right solution to treat PTSD?

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It’s hard to know what what works best when dealing with military Vets with symptoms of PTSD or TBI. For certain, we have learned that there is no “silver bullet” solution and that drugs tend to address symptoms rather than provide any “real” long term improvement, let alone cure. In fact, anecdotal evidence and SFTT’s research suggests that most current “treatment” programs often over prescribe drugs and this will often lead to drug dependency with explosive consequences.

Earlier, SFTT reported that OxyContin or “Hillbilly Heroin” was regularly prescribed to Veterans by the VA. The side effects were devastating and some independent researchers have suggested that the prescription of OxyContin actually led to more self-destructive behavior in Vets rather than provide any real cure.

SFTT Medical Advisory Board is examining all recommended PTSD treatment options. Your generous contribution help insure that our brave warriors get proper information on treatment modalities and where possible discover treatment options that may be better suited to their particular circumstances.

The articles below illustrate the ongoing debate about various drug treatment modalities and their repercussions. Please note that the articles below describe the complexity of dealing with PTSD and neither SFTT nor or Medical Advisory Board necessarily recommends any of treatment modalities discussed below:

PSTD vets given drugs against guidelines – Big News Network.com

PSTD vets given drugs against guidelines.  The study, published in Psychiatric Services, found in 2009, among all veterans with PTSD who had continuous VA medication use, 65.7 percent were prescribed elective serotonin-norepinephrine …

The Deadly Rise of Prescription Drug Abuse in the Military – MyABC50.com

The Deadly Rise of Prescription Drug Abuse in the Military.  Over the past decade, the military has spent $1.6 billion on painkillers (opioids) such as Oxycontin and Hydrocodone. $2.7 billion has been spent on anti-depressants and …

Military turns to meditation for PTSD – Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

Military turns to meditation for PTSD. PTSD is usually treated with drugs, behavioral therapy and other approaches. But for many, these methods don’t work. Now, researchers are looking at a new method that might limit future c …

A Potential Therapy for PTSD? – TIME

Potential Therapy for PTSD? My research focuses on the harmful effects of a class of drugs called quinolines, most notably the antimalarial drug mefloquine (or Lariam), which has been widely prescribed to deployed troops in Somalia, Iraq, an …

Drug Free PTSD Treatment & Cure for Soldiers & Military

The website is patriot outreach.org, I have nothing to do with this organization other than I know it has changed lives. It’s very simple and powerful.

Clearly, the symptoms of PTSD can be traumatic for the veteran and loved ones.  Many organizations promise support, but very few deliver a replicable and comprehensive treatment program that allows veterans a better than average chance of reclaiming their lives.  Claims of successe in dealing with this terrible affliction need to be carefully evaluated.

 

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Military Helmet Sensor Data: What does it show?

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Two years ago, sophisticated sensors were implanted in military helmets of some 7,000 troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The purpose of the sensors was to evaluate the extent of concussions and  brain trauma injuries caused by IEDs and other combat related incidents.  According to the military video shown below, data from these sensors was downloaded monthly to a computer terminal  and then forwarded to a “secure” data center in Aberdeen, MD for analysis.

 

To date, SFTT is not aware that the Department of Defense (DOD) has shared any of this information with the public. However, the recent decision by the military to award a new helmet sensor contract to BAE Systems strongly suggests that we are dealing with no trivial issue.  Indeed, the recent release of the comprehensive US Army report entitled Health Promotion Risk Reduction Suicide Prevention and increased media attention at the extent of brain trauma injuries within the military would argue that greater public disclosure is well-advised to deal with this growing problem.

As recent history shows, the US Army and DOD are unwilling to share relevant data with the public that might suggest that the equipment provided to our brave warriors is deficient.   In fact, Roger Charles, the Editor of SFTT, was obliged to file a request under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) to obtain forensic records of troops killed with upper torso wounds to evaluate the effectiveness of military-issue body armor.   A  federal judge in Washington, D.C. recently ordered the Army’s medical examiner to release information about the effectiveness of body armor used by U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan or to justify the decision to withhold it.  For Roger Charles and those in SFTT who have followed this issue for several years, it is unlikely that the US Army will open their kimono and confirm what most already know:  the body armor issued to our troops was not properly tested and is most likely flawed.

Full disclosure is generally the “right” decision and it would be useful for the US Army to share the helmet sensor data with the public to help address a growing problem for the men and women who have served in harm’s way and their families.   The American public can handle the truth!

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US Army Releases Comprehensive Report on Suicides

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The US Army released a  350 page report seeking to understand the increasing rates of suicides among military personnel.  Entitled “Health Promotion Risk Reduction Suicide Prevention,” this comprehensive report is the most serious effort yet to understand the disturbing trends that are affecting the mental well-being of men and women in uniform.

The report contains a sobering introduction from General Peter Chiarelli, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, who reports that there were 160 active duty suicides in fiscal 2009 (239 across the total Army including Reserve components).  In addition, there were 146 deaths attributed to “high-risk” behavior and 1,713 attempted suicides.

I echo General Chiarelli’s point: “These are not just statistics, they are our Soldiers.”

Among the factors cited in the report that may have contributed to these deaths and high-risk behavior are the following:

  • the rigors of service,
  • repeated deployments,
  • injuries and separation from Family which contribute to:
    • a sense of isolation
    • hopelessness
    • life fatigue

In conclusion, General Chiarelli states that “. . . we must now face the unintended consequences of leading an expeditionary Army than included involuntary enlistment extensions, accelerated promotions, extended deployment rotations, reduced dwell time and potentially diverted focus from leading and caring for soldiers in the post, camp and station environment.  While most have remained resilient through these challenges, others have been pushed to their breaking point.”

Indeed, the “unintended consequences” maybe the most unfortunate outcome of this war in Afghanistan.  We are pleased to see the US Army coming to grips which this serious and debilitating problem for the men and women in uniform and their families.  

Richard W. May

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