Finding an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder has been a top Pentagon priority for years. And with an estimated one in five veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from PTSD, the military’s been willing to consider anything and everything, including yoga, dog therapy and acupuncture, to alleviate symptoms.
But a small new study out of Walter Reed Army Medical Center might offer more than temporary relief — with nothing more than a quick jab to the neck.
It’s a procedure called stellate ganglion block (STB), and involves injecting local anesthetic into a bundle of nerves located in the neck. The bundle are a locus for the sympathetic nervous system, which regulates the body’s “fight-or-flight” stress response.
Led by Lieutenant Colonel Sean Mulvaney, Pentagon scientists gave STB injections to two soldiers, one on active duty and another who’d been suffering from PTSD symptoms since serving in the Gulf War nearly two decades ago. Their study reports that both men “experienced immediate, significant and durable relief” after the 10-minute procedure, and no longer exhibit symptoms that would qualify them for a PTSD diagnosis.
Seven months later, both had successfully stopped using...
Victory for Troops Exposed to Chemical and Biological Weapons Testing
February 3, 2010
Morrison & Foerster Secures Victory for Troops Exposed to Chemical and Biological Weapons Testing in Case Against the U.S. Government
SAN FRANCISCO (January 20, 2010) – Morrison & Foerster yesterday won the right to proceed with a case against the CIA, the Department of Defense, and the U.S. Army, filed on behalf of veterans rights organizations Vietnam Veterans of America and Swords to Plowshares, along with six veterans with multiple diseases and ailments, tied to a secret testing program in which U.S. military personnel were deliberately exposed to chemical and biological weapons and other toxins without informed consent. Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief that would free them from their secrecy oaths and grant them healthcare that they were promised.
On January 19, 2010, Judge Claudia Wilken of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, issued an order that overruled the government’s main arguments to dismiss the case, which were based upon lack of jurisdiction, failure to state a claim for relief, statute of limitations, sovereign immunity, and standing.
“The victory obtained for us by our attorneys at Morrison & Foerster finally gives us a chance to redress one of the...
(".... Now, a brain-scanning technique called magnetoencephelography (or MEG) could offer the first biological test to help specifically diagnose ... PTSD. ....
MEG, which was developed in the 1960s for military purposes, offers a unique insight into the neural communications within the brain, says Apostolos Georgopoulos, a neuroscientist at the University of Minnesota Medical School and lead author of the study. The instrument measures the magnetic field created as electrical current passes between areas of the brain. In MEG studies about two years ago, Georgopoulos found that, whereas healthy people shared similar patterns of neural communication, people with Alzheimer's and schizophrenia had distinct, disease-specific patterns. ....")
By Elizabeth Landau, CNN 12/9/09 (CNN) -- Psychological trauma may leave a visible trace in a child's brain, scientists say. A new study published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology found that children with symptoms of post-traumatic stress had poor function of the hippocampus, a part of the brain that stores and retrieves memories. This is the first study to use functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, to look at the function of the hippocampus in youth with symptoms of post-traumatic stress, researchers said. The findings are in line with what has been previously found in adults. The study was led by Dr. Victor Carrion, and the senior author was Dr. Allan Reiss, both at the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research at Stanford University School of Medicine. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition that children and adults develop in response to a traumatic event. Intrusive memories, increased anxiety and emotional arousal are some of the symptoms, and typically they begin within three months of a traumatic event, according...
(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists are learning that the dynamic regulation of genes -- as much as the genes themselves -- shapes the fate of organisms. Now the discovery of a new epigenetic mechanism regulating genes in the brain under stress is helping change the way scientists think about psychiatric disorders and could open new avenues to treatment.
In trying to explain psychiatric disorders, genes simply cannot tell the whole story. The real answers are in the interaction of genes and the environment. Post-traumatic stress disorder requires some trauma, for instance, and people, for the most part, aren’t born depressed. Now research has revealed one mechanism by which a stressful experience changes the way that genes are expressed in the rat brain. The discovery of “epigenetic” regulation of genes in the brain is helping change the way scientists think about psychiatric disorders and could open new avenues to treatment.
Richard Hunter, a postdoc in Rockefeller University’s Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology, found that a single 30-minute episode of acute stress causes a rapid...
High rates of PTSD in Iraq War veterans are being seen, as well as a number of other difficulties, including alcohol and drug use, and depression. This may not be too surprising to read as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are in the news everyday, as are reports of their effect on the mental health of the men and women serving there. A majority of service members in Iraq and Afghanistan have encountered traumatic experiences and high rates of PTSD and other difficulties have been found.
Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan definitely need to have mental health services available to them in order to help them adjust and cope with their experiences. In acknowledgment of this, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been attempting to give returning veterans priority for medical and psychiatric care at VA medical centers, as well as offer programs that are focused on providing early help with any psychological and medical difficulties they may be experiencing.
A New Study on Returning Service Members
A recent study in the journal Military Medicine examined rates of PTSD and the success of these VA programs among 120 service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan....
November 6, 2007 (Washington, DC) -- Estimates of the rate of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among veterans returning from Iraq range from 12% to 20%. With deployment topping 1.5 million this summer, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) having treated more than 52,000 persons, the greatest effect of those mental health issues has yet to be experienced. These problems and interventions were presented here at the American Public Health Association 135th Annual Meeting.
Evan Kanter, MD, PhD, staff psychiatrist in the PTSD Outpatient Clinic of the VA Puget Sound Health Care System, said that estimates are for a minimum of 300,000 psychiatric casualties from service in Iraq, to this point, with an estimated lifetime cost of treatment of $660 billion. That is more than the actual cost of the war to date ($500 billion).
"A study of the first 100,000 [Iraq and Afghanistan] veterans seen at VA facilities showed that 25% of them received mental health diagnoses. Of these, 56% had 2 or more mental health diagnoses. The most common were PTSD, substance abuse, and depression," Dr. Kanter said. "The younger the veterans are, the more likely they are to have mental health conditions."
Trauma of Iraq war haunting thousands returning home
By William M. Welch, USA TODAY
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Jeremy Harrison sees the warning signs in the Iraq war veterans who walk through his office door every day — flashbacks, inability to relax or relate, restless nights and more.
Jesus Bocanegra, 23, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, visits the South Texas War Memorial.
By Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY
He recognizes them as symptoms of combat stress because he's trained to, as a counselor at the small storefront Vet Center here run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He recognizes them as well because he, too, has faced readjustment in the year since he returned from Iraq, where he served as a sergeant in an engineering company that helped capture Baghdad in 2003.
"Sometimes these sessions are helpful to me," Harrison says, taking a break from counseling some of the nation's newest combat veterans. "Because I deal with a lot of the same problems."
As the United States nears the two-year mark in its military presence in Iraq still fighting a violent insurgency, it is also coming to grips with one of the products of war at...
Regardless of which war or conflict you look at, high rates of PTSD in veterans have been found. Throughout history, people have recognized that exposure to combat situations can negatively impact the mental health of those involved in these situations. In fact, the diagnosis of PTSD historically originates from observations of the effect of combat on soldiers. The grouping of symptoms that we now refer to as PTSD has been described in the past as "combat fatigue," "shell shock," or "war neurosis."
For this reason, researchers have been particularly interested in examining the extent to which PTSD occurs among veterans. Rates of PTSD...
Chuck Luther, who served 12 years in the military, is a veteran of two deployments to Iraq, where he was a reconnaissance scout in the 1st Cavalry Division. The former sergeant was based at Fort Hood, Texas, where he lives today."I see the ugly," Luther told Truthout. "I see soldiers beating their wives and trying to kill themselves all the time, and most folks don't want to look at this, including the military."Luther, who founded and directs "The Soldier's Advocacy Group of Disposable Warriors," knows about these types of internal problems in the military because he has been through it himself.The Web site for the group explains his story:"SGT Luther unknowingly suffered PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] after living in the combat environment. After weeks of suffering with...