News

  • 5 Tips to Make Healthy Habits Last
    Habit is greater than reason - George Santayana
    Graphic by Defense Health Agency

    Good habits provide a foundation for positive improvements in your life.  However, forming new habits can be challenging. They take time and practice to form.

    “A habit is something we do that becomes automatic because we did it many times under the same circumstances,” said Tiffany Milligan, a health psychologist at the Psychological Health Center of Excellence (PHCoE).

    We practice good habits every day because of repeated, consistent action with specific context.  Context is anything that helps you remember the change you want to make and increases the odds you will do it repeatedly. Once behavior is automatic, it becomes easier to maintain.

  • In Case You Missed It: #DCoESummit17
    Summit banner
    Graphic courtesy of Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury

    The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) hosted the 2017 DCoE Summit, “Advances in the State of the Sciences and Best Practices” Sept. 19 -21. Attendees, presenters and panelists from around the world joined live, virtual discussions about scientific advances and best practices in psychological health and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

    The annual event provided real-time access to more than 28 hours of programming each day. The virtual platform allowed more than 2,611 registrants to view the various sessions.

  • From the Clinic to Your Smartphone: Using Mobile Apps to Improve Care
    Example of various mobile apps
    DoD photo by Sidney Hinds

    For many, mobile devices are an efficient way to help with health care. According to studies, 77 percent of Americans own a smartphone and have access to millions of mobile apps. Many of those apps exist to support mental health.

    Dr. Christina Armstrong, program lead for the education and training program at the National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2), discussed advantages of mobile health technology during a recent webinar. The webinar highlighted telehealth capabilities and strategies for making apps a more common tool used in clinical settings.

    The benefits of mobile health technology in clinical care include overcoming barriers, increasing patient engagement, and improving patient reports of symptoms, said Armstrong, also a clinical psychologist.

  • Understanding Cultural Differences and Health Care
    Service members from various branches at ceremony at stadium.
    U.S. Army National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Aaron Ritter

    Cultural identity can affect how service members and their families engage with their health care providers. A recent Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) webinar addressed these impacts and how health care providers can help minimize them.

    Our Diverse Military

    Like the larger American population, those who serve their country in the military represent an intersection of people from every race, class, gender and sexual orientation.

     

  • Learn to Recognize, Control Post-Deployment Anger
    U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf

    Feeling anger is a normal part of your emotional spectrum. Service members may find that anger is a useful emotion during combat. However, once they return home, that anger — and the experiences that come with it — can cause problems. A recent webinar hosted by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury addressed these problems and potential solutions.

    Signs of Anger

    Anger can range in intensity from irritation to rage and can be helpful or harmful, depending on the situation. The body reacts to anger with increased adrenaline, alertness, heart rate and blood pressure. Certain physical reactions (a clenched jaw, muscle tension, shakiness, restlessness, agitation, etc.) can help signal feelings of anger, even if you are not aware of those feelings. Over time excessive anger can cause long-term health issues.

  • Seek Help Early for Substance Abuse Following TBI
    Silhouette of man drinking a shot with other shots lined up in front of him
    U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jarvie Z. Wallace

    Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and substance use disorder share many symptoms, and one condition may often complicate the other. Experts from the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) discussed the problems service members can face when the two conditions intersect during a webinar hosted by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

    Research shows that substance misuse is responsible for 37-50 percent of all TBIs. The majority of individuals who experience a TBI have a history of substance misuse, which often continues after the injury. In addition, a TBI itself can lead to substance misuse, said Lars Hungerford, a senior clinical research director for DVBIC.

    “TBI is actually a risk factor for binge drinking, even after controlling for PTSD and demographic factors,” Hungerford said.

    Substance misuse, particularly alcohol use, can complicate TBI in several ways:

    • Increased likelihood of another TBI. That’s because substance misuse can impair balance, coordination and judgment.
    • Lowered seizure threshold. TBI may increase the risk of seizure from drinking, and alcohol can impede anti-seizure medications.
    • Delayed or halted brain recovery. Alcohol can cause inflammation of the brain, which inhibits its ability to heal.

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