DCoE Blog

  • How to Stop Using Substances to Relax

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    U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Rebekka Heite

    Having a glass of wine or beer is a common way to relax at the end of a day or week. But alcohol or other mood-enhancing substances can be an unhealthy and ineffective way to cope with bigger issues, as this post from Real Warriors explains.

    Substance misuse is a common concern facing service members, veterans and civilians. Substances like alcohol, tobacco and drugs may be used as a way to cope with stress related to combat, reintegration or a psychological health concern. Although using substances may feel like a way to unwind or give you relief, their misuse can have a lasting, serious impact on your life. These impacts can include harm to your health and relationships. They can also lead to work troubles, financial or legal difficulties, or even death.

  • What to Do When Bad News Brings the Blues

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    U.S. Army photo by Timothy L. Hale

    With news and social media focused on the tragic events happening around the world, you may feel you lack control over the outcome or an inability to really make a difference. This post from AfterDeployment explains why and offers ways to let go.

    …There is a happy medium between consuming the news and becoming consumed with the news. Since the introduction of 24-hour news networks, we rarely get to the end of a news story. There will always be additional details, interviews and expert opinions on important topics. News websites have provided us nearly instant access to important information, but they are designed to pull us in and send us off to related stories. There will never be a message saying, “That’s it. You know everything there is to know about this topic. Go take a walk.”

  • 2016 DCoE Summit Review: Center Offers Intensive Care for TBI Patients

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    DCoE photo by Terry Welch

    Doctors from the Fort Hood Intrepid Spirit Center in Killeen, Texas presented a multidisciplinary treatment approach for service members coping with the effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI) at the 2016 Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Summit Sept. 13-15.

    Dr. Scot Engel, a clinical psychologist and site director of the Intrepid Spirit Center, and Dr. John Dieter, a neuropsychologist and director of research, explained the Fort Hood Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), which helps service members who have deployed to combat zones or experienced sexual assault in the military. Candidates are eligible to participate with commander approval if they have not responded positively to lower-level treatments and have at least two of the following:

    • A history of TBI
    • Current experience with significant emotional distress
    • Chronic pain

    The program combines multiple disciplines to also treat service members with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

  • Clinician’s Corner: Help Your Patients and Yourself Feel Comfortable Talking About Suicide

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    U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Y. Barclay

    For the past eight years, suicide is among the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Despite its prevalence, suicide remains a sensitive topic often considered taboo. The effects of stigma related to suicide are of particular importance for those in the military. There is a common perception among service members that if they share their thoughts of suicide with others, they may experience negative repercussions that will affect their careers.

    As mental health professionals, we too are susceptible to personal beliefs that perpetuate stigma. Without knowing it, we may bring these beliefs and fears (rooted in stigma) into the therapy room.

  • Military Health System News: Do Benefits of Sports Participation Outweigh Risks?

    Read the full story: Military Health System News: Do Benefits of Sports Participation Outweigh Risks?
    U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Travis Gershaneck

    Playing sports has health benefits for children and service members. Experts from the Military Health System examined whether those benefits outweigh the risks in a recent health.mil article.

    Children can be involved in sports from a young age. Participating in sports gives children a way to release energy in a more controlled, positive manner, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan Roth, a sports medicine physician at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in northern Virginia. From toddler gymnastics to T-ball and soccer, organized sports help teach young children important social lessons – like teamwork, sharing and perseverance.

  • ‘What Did You Say?’ Hearing Loss and Brain Injuries

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    U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Stephen D. Schester

    It’s no surprise that some symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI) include headaches and memory problems. But hearing loss may also accompany a TBI, either because the injury damages the ear or because there is damage to the part of the brain that processes sound. In addition, loud noises that might just be irritating to people without a brain injury can cause problems such as headaches and fatigue for those with a TBI.

    Research continues to fully understand the mechanisms associated with hearing loss and auditory and vestibular (important part of the ear for balance) system injuries in individuals with TBI, said Katie Stout, director of clinical affairs for Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. In the meantime, there are specialty treatments and rehabilitation strategies available for hearing and balance challenges in individuals with TBI.

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