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  • Accepting Emotions Helps PTSD Recovery, Military Medical Expert Says

    Read the full story: Accepting Emotions Helps PTSD Recovery, Military Medical Expert Says
    DoD photo by Sidney R. Hinds III

    Avoiding unwanted memories and emotions can stifle recovery from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to Dr. Richard Stoltz, deputy director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE).

    Dissociation related to trauma looks different for each person, Stoltz told attendees at the Society of Federal Health Professionals (AMSUS) conference Nov. 29. Some PTSD survivors repress a memory so much that they don’t remember the trauma at all. Others actively think of something else the moment they begin to remember traumatic events. Dissociation also means that people may shut down mentally or emotionally when recalling a trauma so that they numb the feelings associated with it.

    These and other coping strategies are actually counterproductive in recovery, Stoltz explained. Blocking out feelings may help someone perform better or even survive during an emergency or combat situation. However, continuing to block the event or the feelings afterward is harmful.

    “If you’ve gone through a traumatic situation, when you’re back in a safe place, you need to figure out when you’re going to consciously get in touch with your feelings about it,” Stoltz said.

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  • Military Families Matter: These Resources Help Build Family Resilience

    Read the full story: Military Families Matter: These Resources Help Build Family Resilience
    U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod

    Military families face unique life challenges. They rely on support to help them face things such as military moves and transitions, deployments and separations, or injuries.

    In today’s tech-centered world, the military makes it easy to help families find resources to conquer challenges and build resilience. It can be as simple as an internet search.

    Resources for Families

    When service members enlist, their families are directly affected. Whether the family member is a spouse, parent, sibling, adult child or caretaker of a service member, it's important for them to find ways to stay resilient.

  • Alcohol Use, PTSD among Combat Servicewomen

    Read the full story: Alcohol Use, PTSD among Combat Servicewomen
    U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amy M. Ressler

    Women didn’t officially serve in ground combat positions until 2013. However, many of them did their jobs in real-time combat settings, often under direct fire. Despite this, research on how deployment affects women is limited. Scientists discussed the need for more research and other post-deployment concerns that affect female service members during a webinar hosted by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

    Where’s the Data?

    Almost half of female service members eligible for care through the Defense Health Agency do not use it. This lack of use makes it harder to gather data on their post-combat experiences. Also, most of the post-deployment studies on PTSD and substance use disorder occurred before women openly served in combat. This means most deployment-related studies do not accurately reflect the experiences of women.

  • [How-to] Quit Smoking: You Can Do It!

    Read the full story: [How-to] Quit Smoking: You Can Do It!
    Quitting tobacco is the number one thing we can do to improve health.

    Tobacco use remains an important public health problem. Fifty years after the first Surgeon General’s report, tobacco use among Americans remains the nation’s leading preventable cause of death and disease. But, there is hope. In 2015, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 10,244 service members sought treatment for tobacco dependence.

    It’s never too late to be among those asking for help. Coaching from a health care provider can help you kick your tobacco habit. If you are a service member, retiree or military family member, you can ask your primary care manager about working with an internal behavioral health consultant (IHBC). These consultants are specially-trained psychologists or social workers with the Military Health System.

    To learn more about how these consultants can help, I sat down with Capt. Anne Dobmeyer, a psychologist with the Deployment Health Clinical Center who helped the military implement the IHBC program.

    “We know that quitting tobacco is the number one thing we can do to improve health,” Dobmeyer said.

  • Manage Your Screens for Sweeter Dreams

    Read the full story: Manage Your Screens for Sweeter Dreams

    We all know that a good night’s rest is important for our health, but sleep can be hard to come by. Many of our daily habits can make it hard to fall asleep consistently, especially habits that involve electronics and screens. Learn how managing your screen exposure can make it easier to rest easy with this infographic!

    But wait, there’s more! We have more resources to help improve your sleep…

  • Depression Symptoms Can Increase with Concussion

    Read the full story: Depression Symptoms Can Increase with Concussion
    U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Teddy Wade

    Many service members who sustain a concussion also cope with depression. There is a distinct connection between depression and traumatic brain injury (TBI). In fact, depression diagnoses increase after a brain injury.

    “Sometimes the challenge is [that] post-concussive syndrome can sound the same as depression,” said Kelvin Lim, principal investigator for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center location at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Health Care System. “It is important to be aware of overlap between the two.”

    TBI and Depression

    Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center research found that depression can strongly influence post-concussion symptoms following a concussion. The study shows that patients who are diagnosed with both a concussion and depression report more severe symptoms than patients with only a concussion.

    Asking the right questions can help providers prescribe the right treatment. Through targeted questioning a provider can distinguish if the patient’s post-concussive symptoms are similar to depression, or if the patient is experiencing co-occurring conditions. The right questions can lead to the right diagnosis. The right diagnosis leads to the right treatment.