Tag Archives | PTSD

Child Abuse Changes Gene Activity Patterns

TonitzaOrfanderazboiIt looks like child abuse does more than leave physical and emotional scarring: It changes its victims on a genetic level.

Via Medical News Today:

A study of adult civilians with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) has shown that individuals with a history of childhood abuse have distinct, profound changes in gene activity patterns, compared to adults with PTSD but without a history of child abuse.

A team of researchers from Atlanta and Munich probed blood samples from 169 participants in the Grady Trauma Project, a study of more than 5000 Atlanta residents with high levels of exposure to violence, physical and sexual abuse and with high risk for civilian PTSD.

The results were published recently in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Early Edition.

“These are some of the most robust findings to date showing that different biological pathways may describe different subtypes of a psychiatric disorder, which appear similar at the level of symptoms but may be very different at the level of underlying biology,” says Kerry Ressler, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine and Yerkes National Primate Research Center.

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‘Did We Just Kill a Kid?’: The Moment a Drone Operator Realized He Could Not Go On

You tell me if brainwashing is real.

Via DailyMail.Co.Uk

A former U.S. drone operator has opened up about the toll of killing scores of innocent people by pressing a button from a control room in New Mexico.

Brandon Bryant, 27, from Missoula, Montana, spent six years in the Air Force operating Predator drones from inside a dark container.

But, after following orders to shoot and kill a child in Afghanistan, he knew he couldn't keep doing what he was doing and quit the military.

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or “Moral Injury”?

Picture: USAF (PD)

Shepherd Bliss writes at Counterpunch:

“My God, what have we done?” combat soldiers sometimes gasp as they see those they or comrades just killed, especially when they include innocent children, women, and other civilians.

“We knew that we killed them/…the terrified mother/ clutching terrified child,” writes former Lieutenant Michael Parmeley in his poem “Meditation on Being a Baby Killer.” In l968, Lt. Parmeley led a combat platoon in the American War on Vietnam. He receives benefits for what is clinically described as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“My gunner…started to cry,” Parmeley writes. “There’s a myth of recovery,/ that you put it behind you/…but memories aren’t like that/…I know that we killed them.”

Parmeley and I have participated in the Veterans’ Writing Group for twenty years. We attend regular meetings, break silences, tell our stories in a healing context, and listen without judgment. His poem appears in our book “Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace,” (www.vowvop.org) edited by our writing teacher, award-winning author, and former University of California Berkeley professor Maxine Hong Kingston.

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Embattled Childhoods May Be the Real Trauma for Soldiers With PTSD

Picture: Sean J. Gourley (CC)

Can an abusive childhood be worse than war?  Via ScienceDaily:

New research on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in soldiers challenges popular assumptions about the origins and trajectory of PTSD, providing evidence that traumatic experiences in childhood — not combat — may predict which soldiers develop the disorder.

Psychological scientist Dorthe Berntsen of Aarhus University in Denmark and a team of Danish and American researchers wanted to understand why some soldiers develop PTSD but others don’t. They also wanted to develop a clearer understanding of how the symptoms of the disorder progress.

“Most studies on PTSD in soldiers following service in war zones do not include measures of PTSD symptoms prior to deployment and thus suffer from a baseline problem. Only a few studies have examined pre- to post-deployment changes in PTSD symptoms, and most only use a single before-and-after measure,” says Berntsen.

The team aimed to address these methodological issues by studying a group of 746 Danish soldiers and evaluating their symptoms of PTSD at five different timepoints.

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Ecstasy Is New Drug Of Choice For PTSD

Rick Doblin has been one of the few medical doctors in the United States, or actually make that more or less anywhere in the developed world, willing to stick his neck out and conduct clinical trials of psychedelic drugs.

His work has been variously profiled by the alternative press (including, of course, Under The Influence: The Disinformation Guide to Drugs), but it seems that his time may finally have come for some mainstream acceptance. Benedict Carey profiles the work of Doblin’s Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) organization for the New York Times:

Hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with post-traumatic stress have recently contacted a husband-and-wife team who work in suburban South Carolina to seek help. Many are desperate, pleading for treatment and willing to travel to get it.

The soldiers have no interest in traditional talking cures or prescription drugs that have given them little relief. They are lining up to try an alternative: MDMA, better known as Ecstasy, a party drug that surfaced in the 1980s and ’90s that can induce pulses of euphoria and a radiating affection.

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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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