Tag Archives | PTSD

The U.S. Army’s Quest To Develop An Anti-Suicide Nasal Spray

Soldier, the problem isn’t that you’re facing foreclosure on your home, physical disability, and PTSD, you just haven’t had you daily spritz of anti-suicide spray. Via Russia Today:

The US Army has awarded a scientist at the Indiana University School of Medicine $3 million to develop a nasal spray that eclipses suicidal thoughts. Dr. Michael Kubek and his research team will have three years to ascertain whether the nasal spray is a safe and effective method of preventing suicides.

The research grant comes after the Army lost 38 of its soldiers to suspected suicide in July, setting a record high. So far in 2012, the Army has confirmed 66 active duty suicides and is investigating 50 more, making a total of 116 cases.

But the naturally occurring neurochemical thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) could slow the rising suicide rate. The chemical has a euphoric, calming, antidepressant effect. TRH has been shown to decrease suicidal ideas, depression and bipolar disorders.

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White House Rejects Medical Marijuana For Soldiers’ PTSD Treatment

Marijuana ruled hazardous to your health, war not. Adding to the hypocrisy is the fact that our president was once a legendary stoner who during his teen years invented new methods of getting high and cruised around Hawaii in a mobile drugmobile called the Choomwagon. Higher Thinking Primate writes:

Despite evidence that medical marijuana can be beneficial to those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the White House wants to make one thing clear: You can go fight multiple tours for this country in useless wars, but if the horrors of war mess with your head, you’re not allowed to smoke weed when you get home.

Responding to a petition by former Air Force sergeant Mike Krawitz asking the White House to consider medical marijuana as a treatment for PTSD, Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske said no. Saying marijuana is not a “benign drug,” Kerlikowske asserted that it does not meet standards of safe or effective medicine.

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Is This Where All The Ritalin Went?

Ritalin-SR-20mg-fullAccording to an op-ed entitled “Why Are We Drugging Our Soldiers?” in the New York Times by Richard A. Friedman, “the number of Ritalin and Adderall prescriptions written for active-duty service members increased by nearly 1,000 percent in five years.” Might this explain, in part at least, the shortages of Ritalin and Adderall that have plagued students nationwide?

Since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there has been a large and steady rise in the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder among our troops. One recent study of 289,000 Americans who served in those countries found that the rates of the disorder jumped to 22 percent in 2008 from just 0.2 percent in 2002.

Given the duration of these wars and the length and frequency of deployments, when compared with other wars, perhaps such high rates of PTSD are not so surprising. Prolonged exposure to a perilous and uncertain combat environment might make trauma common.

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American Military Veterans Now Kill Themselves At A Rate of One Every 80 Minutes

US Dept Of Veterans AffairsNicholas D. Kristof writes in the New York Times:

Here’s a window into a tragedy within the American military: For every soldier killed on the battlefield this year, about 25 veterans are dying by their own hands.

An American soldier dies every day and a half, on average, in Iraq or Afghanistan. Veterans kill themselves at a rate of one every 80 minutes. More than 6,500 veteran suicides are logged every year — more than the total number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined since those wars began.

These unnoticed killing fields are places like New Middletown, Ohio, where Cheryl DeBow raised two sons, Michael and Ryan Yurchison, and saw them depart for Iraq. Michael, then 22, signed up soon after the 9/11 attacks.

“I can’t just sit back and do nothing,” he told his mom. Two years later, Ryan followed his beloved older brother to the Army.

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The War in Afghanistan Is Mutiny by a Different Name

MilitaryClancy Sigal writes at AlterNet:

Military uprisings among the lower ranks have a long and fairly honorable tradition. The famous mutinies include Bligh’s HMS Bounty, the Indian Sepoy rising, Russian battleship Potemkin, British sailors’ strike at Invergordon, and lesser known mass revolts by French infantry divisions at the failed “Nivelle offensive” in 1917, Port Chicago in 1944 by African-American sailors refusing to unload dangerous cargo, U.S. soldier strikes in the Pacific against General MacArthur, and of course widespread GI resistance in Vietnam that broke the back of the war.

Afghanistan is an army mutiny by another name — on both sides. In “green on green” killings, Afghan soldiers have been on a spree killing American and NATO soldiers. Now an American sergeant, on his fourth combat tour, with previously diagnosed transitory brain injury, has “gone postal,” murdering 16 Afghans including women and nine children.

Yet the army doctors at the killer sergeant’s home base, Joint Fort Lewis-McChord, considered him “fit for combat duty” and as for his brain injury he was “deemed to be fine.”

Fort Lewis-McChord, in Washington state, is notorious for its cruel handling of returned combat veterans. Its forensic psychiatry unit at Madigan Medical Center had two doctors fired for mistreatment or otherwise ignoring soldier complaints.

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PTSD And Homicidal Behavior

Benjamin Colton Barnes

Benjamin Colton Barnes

Many commenters on CNN’s website believe this article unfairly conflates PTSD and homicidal behavior.  What do you think?

A man opens fire in a national park, killing a ranger who was attempting to stop him after he blew through a vehicle checkpoint.A second man is suspected in the stabbing deaths of four homeless men in Southern California.

Both men, U.S. military veterans, served in Iraq — and both, according to authorities and those who knew them, returned home changed men after their combat service.

A coincidence — two recent high-profile cases? Or a sign of an increase in hostile behavior as U.S. troops complete their withdrawal from Iraq, similar to that seen when U.S. troops returned home from the Vietnam War?

“You’re going to see this more and more over the next 10 years,” said Shad Meshad, founder of the National Veterans Foundation, who has been working with veterans since 1970.

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Casualties of War: The Most Depressive Toy Soldiers Ever

Created by Dorothy via Sad And Useless:

Toy SoldierSays Dorothy:

The hell of war comes home. In July 2009 Colorado Springs Gazettea published a two-part series entitled “Casualties of War”. The articles focused on a single battalion based at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, who since returning from duty in Iraq had been involved in brawls, beatings, rapes, drunk driving, drug deals, domestic violence, shootings, stabbings, kidnapping and suicides. Returning soldiers were committing murder at a rate 20 times greater than other young American males. A separate investigation into the high suicide rate among veterans published in the New York Times in October 2010 revealed that three times as many California veterans and active service members were dying soon after returning home than those being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. We hear little about the personal hell soldiers live through after returning home.

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God, The Army, And PTSD

An Army Chaplain's MemoirFrom a 2009 article in the Boston Review by Tara McKelvey:

When Roger Benimoff arrived at the psychiatric building of the Coatesville, Pennsylvania veterans’ hospital, he was greeted by a message carved into a nearby tree stump: “Welcome Home.” It was a reminder that things had not turned out as he had expected.

In Faith Under Fire, a memoir about Benimoff’s life as an Army chaplain in Iraq, Benimoff and co-author Eve Conant describe his return from Iraq to his family in Colorado and subsequent assignment to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He retreated deep into himself, spending hours on the computer and racking up ten thousand dollars in debt on eBay. Above all, he was angry and jittery, scared even of his young sons, and barely able to make it through the day. He was eventually admitted to Coatesville’s “Psych Ward.” For a while the lock-down facility was his home.

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“They Are Our Government, Our Leaders—They Cannot Be Crazy”

Regions of the brain associated with stress and posttraumatic stress disorder.

Regions of the brain associated with stress and posttraumatic stress disorder.

Are the Israelis repeating Holocaust traumas upon the Palestinians?  From the July 1992 issue of Washington Report on Middle East Affairs:

Dr. Jan Bastiaans, a Dutch psychiatrist, is an authority on the Holocaust syndrome, and has treated many survivors. In 1973 he wrote, “In recent years the Ka-tzet (concentration camp) syndrome has suddenly received general recognition…This concept is concerned with…pathological processes that occurred after the war in former concentration camp prisoners…The Ka-tzet syndrome is the expression of a permanent, chronic obstruction of sound human relationships. The victims are not free from the concentration camp…Behind their adaptation facade continues to live the child or adult of [that time] in all fear, in all misery, in all powerlessness.”

Dr. Haim Dasberg, an associate professor of psychiatry at the Hebrew University and medical director of the Ezrat Nashim Jerusalem Mental Health Center, has written extensively on PTSD and the Israeli army.

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Scientists Can Erase Bad Memories

Brave New WorldIs this fun ‘Men In Black’ type stuff, truly useful in the ease of psychological pain from traumatic memories, or totally scary ‘Brave New World’ totalitarianism in the making? Scientists have found that proteins can be removed from the brain’s fear center to delete memories forever. Meredith Cohn reports for the Baltimore Sun, via the LA Times:

Reporting from Baltimore — Soldiers haunted by scenes of war and victims scarred by violence may wish they could wipe the memories from their minds. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University say that may someday be possible.

A commercial drug remains far off — and its use would be subject to many ethical and practical questions. But scientists have laid a foundation with their discovery that proteins can be removed from the brain’s fear center to erase memories forever. “When a traumatic event occurs, it creates a fearful memory that can last a lifetime and have a debilitating effect on a person’s life,” said Richard L.

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