Tuesday, February 5, 2013

5 things to know about PTSD CNN got wrong

Sniper killing aftermath: 5 things to know about PTSD
By Ashley Fantz
February 5, 2013

PTSD is marked by hyper-vigilance, a fear that a trauma will occur again
Rates of PTSD among the general population are low
Virtual reality is being used to treat PTSD sufferers

(CNN) -- When police caught up with alleged killer Eddie Ray Routh last weekend, the 25-year-old ex-Marine was crying, shirtless, shoeless and smelling of alcohol.

"I'm hurting," he told them.

Not long before, at a Texas shooting range, police say, Routh had gunned down Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL who called himself America's deadliest military sniper.

As he sits in a Texas jail cell, details about Routh's psychological make-up have surfaced, including claims that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition that affects a number of current and former members of the U.S. military.

Of course, combat duty doesn't automatically lead to PTSD. And it's not even clear that Routh served in a combat zone during his four years in the Marines.
read more here
While there are good parts to this report, there are many wrong ones. Like this.

"We need to remember that while substantial numbers of vets have mental health conditions," Cozza said, the majority do not.

Because it does not mention the fact less than half of the veterans needing help for PTSD seek in early because of the stigma attached to it coupled with the notion they will just "get over it" with time. Take a look at the number of Vietnam veterans in their 60's seeking help for the first time because they have retired and were no longer able to focus on jobs after a life changing event.

Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who struggle with anger are twice as likely as other vets to be arrested for crimes, according to the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, which published a study last year.

Missing the fact that many veterans are arrested for domestic violence that happened when they were having a nightmare or flashback and their spouse unknowingly tried to shake them awake or yell at them. They ended up with broken noses and black eyes because they didn't know enough to get up out of bed and their husband landed in jail on a domestic violence charge. Missing the fact that arrests for alcohol and bar fights are included too. Then missing the medication aspect that in many cases has fueled violent reactions.

Exposure therapy often helps the person with PTSD revisit or re-experience their trauma as a means of lessening the effect the memory has on them, said Rizzo, who is with the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California.

Missing the point that this kind of therapy only works when they get the veteran to see the whole event and not just part of it so they can make peace with what happened.

But this may have done more damage to PTSD veterans.
"What happened this weekend with the death of former Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle at a gun range is exactly the opposite of the evidence-based approach to treating PTSD," termed 'prolonged exposure' or 'virtual reality exposure' therapy, he said. "Chris Kyle, while well trained in his field, had no clinical training in conducting therapeutic exposure."

There would be no "evidence-based" approach if people didn't try different things. There would be no training if Vietnam veterans didn't push it to begin over 40 years ago and families like mine living through all of it discovering on our own how to help because there were only a few experts on this back then.

This is also missing the point that none of this is new even though it is "news" to them!

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