Supporting a Family Member with PTSD

Ex-DoD Cop's Case Shows Murky Reality for PTSD Sufferers

The support of friends and family members is critical for servicemembers experiencing symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), especially when many service members choose not to get the help they need because of the stigma that surrounds psychological health care. Paul Rose, the author of this Navy Medicine Live blog post knows this firsthand. Read about how he helped his brother, a U.S. Army veteran, get the help he needed for his combat-related PTSD. And then explore the resources identified at the end of this post to support military members and those who support them.

When my kid brother left for Iraq he was just that — a kid. He returned home shattered inside. The “dark pit,” as he calls it, was hidden underneath his gruff, infantry-tattooed exterior. No one in our family could have predicted what he would experience or the after-effects that continue to haunt him today.

Many sailors, soldiers, Marines and airmen return from deployments with posttraumatic stress disorder. As a family member of a person suffering from PTSD, we must be strong for them in a variety of ways to help them combat the disorder. I received an up-close and personal look at how it can affect a person, when my younger brother came to live with me after separating from the U.S. Army.

Shortly after graduating from the U.S. Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Ga., my younger brother found his newly-issued boots on the sandy ground in Mosul, Iraq — during a time that would turn out to be one of the bloodiest during the war. His main duties were to provide infantry support to convoys, security detail, and to locate and apprehend insurgents.

He came home with an inescapable burden on his back. He continually woke up, drenched in sweat, with nightmares so real he could still see the terrifying images in his dark room. His mind was filled with the lives he had to take, the friends he lost — some to the enemy, some to suicide — and the near-misses of death’s cold, bony grip on his own neck.

He talked to no one about the sleepless nights and the recurring feelings of depression and hopelessness. The stigma associated with being diagnosed with PTSD kept him from seeking help. The disorder eventually caused him to exit the Army before his enlistment was up. A short time later he’d be living in my finished basement, as my wife and I adjusted to life with our two kids and a newly discharged war veteran.

My brother would continually become overwhelmed with routine things like paying his bills, getting up for work or dealing with relationships. PTSD was winning the battle against him, and he did not know how to fight back. Even after he hung up his uniform, he still carried himself like an invincible infantry soldier. Deep down he knew he needed help, but was still too afraid, ashamed and overwhelmed to seek it.

The year he spent with us was an extremely trying time. As he was learning how to get better, we were learning how to help him. Being a family member of someone who has been diagnosed with combat-related PTSD can be difficult, but the most important thing we did was to provide a stable support system for him.

There were times my brother could be so frustrating that we would get into screaming matches. He would peel out of the neighborhood, the screech of his car tires echoing through the house, and I would pray he came home that night. His behavior became more erratic. I helped him apply for jobs. He would hold one for a short time and then quit, normally after losing his temper or becoming fed-up with it. All of these actions are a correlation to the internal fight he was struggling with.

After much convincing by my wife and I, he finally overcame his fear of the stigma associated with the disorder and went to the local Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center, where he was evaluated and given a service-connected disability for PTSD, as well as for injuring his back while deployed, but most importantly access to the tools and programs to fight it.

The nightmares still remained. We continued our support. I gathered research on the subject, finding that a mix of therapy, medication and a healthy lifestyle could decrease the effects. He started taking a prescribed medication and spoke with social workers at the VA hospital regularly. I dragged him to workouts with me and created healthy athletic competition for us, including intramural sports, which was something he enjoyed and looked forward to all week. We made sure he remembered his appointments, encouraged him in his work and most importantly, ensured that he knew he was a valuable part of our family dynamic. I tried to keep him from getting overwhelmed by telling him to take things “one day at a time.” It became a mantra for us.

It’s been a few years since my brother was in Iraq with an M4 slung over his shoulder. And he’s a long way from the 8-year-old who dug foxholes in my mother’s backyard while dreaming of being a soldier. He would never take back his time in the Army and believes very much in his mission in Iraq. When he eventually made me one of the few people he shared his experiences with, he confessed with tear-filled eyes of times he came close to taking his own life. He assured me that war is not glorious or heroic. He did what he had to do because the soldiers serving beside him needed him, and each one of them would have done the same thing, he said.

After a year with us, he had gotten his PTSD under control, with help from the VA and support from his family. He continues to maintain his appointments, take his medication, work out on a regular basis and has a steady job. He is living on his own and is still fighting hard.

While there is no clear cut route to helping a family member with combat-related PTSD, the one thing we can do for those close to us who are suffering, is to offer support. Without his family, I don’t know where my brother would be today — if he would even be alive. But I do know that he is winning the war — one day at a time.

http://www.military.com/spouse/military-life/wounded-warriors/supporting-a-family-member-with-ptsd.html

PTSD Combat Vet: Anger

Virtual Reality as a Treatment for PTSD?

Our lonely society makes it hard to come home from war

Advanced PTSD Therapy

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7frOWBiU8D4

Patient Engagement in PTSD Treatment

For patients with PTSD to derive the greatest benefit
from available evidence-based psychotherapies and
psychiatric medications they must be able to fully
engage in their treatment. However, a wealth of
published data demonstrates that a majority of service
members and Veterans with PTSD are not successful
in doing so (e.g., Hoge et al., 2014; Spoont, Murdoch,
Hodges, & Nugent, 2010). Patient engagement in
mental health services has received relatively little
attention as compared to the substantial consideration
given to patient engagement in the design and
delivery of patient-centered physical health care
(Carman et al., 2013). Below, we provide a selective
review of the available literature in an attempt to
describe factors that make patients more likely to
engage in PTSD treatment and identify interventions
that may improve patient engagement in PTSD
treatment, with a focus on evidence-based treatments.
Following Gruman et al.’s (2010) conceptualization,
we define patient engagement as the behaviors
required to achieve optimal benefit from health care.
The review focuses on the three aspects of
engagement most often examined in the PTSD
literature: treatment initiation (utilizing care; starting
treatment), retention (completing the intended
course of treatment), and adherence (performing
behaviors in the treatment plan). The scope of the
review is adult patients’ engagement in PTSD
treatment; however, due to limited data regarding
civilians’ engagement, a majority of the studies
reviewed focus on active duty and Veteran populations.
Following the review, we evaluate this literature
within a patient engagement conceptual framework
and suggest future research directions.
Factors Associated with Engagement
Demographic factors such as age, gender, race, and
ethnicity have been the most frequently studied and
are among the few variables that have consistently
demonstrated significant associations with treatment
initiation and retention across studies. Patient
age has r
epeatedly been found to predict initiation
and retention in general mental health treatment,
psychotherapy, and evidence-based psychotherapy
(EBP) in that younger patients are less likely to
initiate and be retained in treatment (Goetter et al.,
2015; Kehle-Forbes, Meis, Spoont, & Polusny, 2016;
Spoont et al., 2014). Patient race has also been
shown to be associated with treatment initiation and
retention, although not as consistently as age
(Goetter et al., 2015; Spoont, Hodges, Murdoch, &
Nugent, 2009; Spoont et al., 2015). For example,
African American and Latino Veterans were found
to be less likely than white Veterans to receive
a minimally adequate trial of treatment (both
psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy for African
American Veterans; pharmacotherapy only for Latino
Veterans) within six months of PTSD diagnosis
(Spoont et al., 2015). Negative attitudes towards
psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy (e.g., believing
that treatment wouldn’t be helpful) accounted for
the disparity in Latino Veterans’ retention, but the
disparities in African American Veterans’ retention
remained after accounting for treatment-related
beliefs (Spoont et al., 2015). Findings regarding
the associations between engagement and other
demographic variables such as Veterans’ service
connection status, marital status, and employment
have been equivocal (Goetter et al., 2015; Mott,
Mondragon, et al., 2014; Grubbs et al., 2015).
Potentially modifiable factors underlying differences
in engagement between demographic groups should
be the focus of future research.
Pretreatment symptomology and patients’ social
environments are two nondemographic factors that
have been subject to considerable study. Research
regarding the impact of PTSD severity on initiation
and retention has yielded inconsistent results, with
some studies showing that higher total levels of
If you want to read the entire article click on the fallowing link; Patient Engagement in PTSD Treatment

Operation Second Chance

Operation Second Chance Inc

Causes: Military & Veterans Organizations, Veterans

Mission: We are patriotic citizens committed to serving our wounded, injured and ill combat veterans. We support Veterans and their families by building relationships and identifying and supporting immediate needs and interests. We are dedicated to promoting public awareness of the many sacrifices made by our Armed Forces.

Target demographics: wounded, injured, and ill veterans and their families

Geographic areas served: the United States of America

Programs: Morale, welfare, and recreation expenses to improve the morale of wounded soldiers. Activities include meals, cookouts, and trips to the movies for the soldiers.

assistance for individual wounded soldier’s expenses including clothing, airline tickets, mortgage payments, and car repairs.

 

http://www.operationsecondchance.org/