DCoE Blog

  • Fortify Caregivers to Prevent Compassion Fatigue

    Read the full story: Fortify Caregivers to Prevent Compassion Fatigue
    U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jason Kemp

    Compassion fatigue is a natural occurrence that may affect health care providers and the quality of care they provide to patients, a professor of social work said in a psychological health webinar hosted last month by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

    Brian E. Bride, a professor of social work at Georgia State University and editor in chief of “Traumatology: An International Journal,” outlined the risks of compassion fatigue. Bride also explained strategies caregivers can apply to minimize its impact on their mental states and on the care they provide.

    Compassion fatigue occurs in caregivers who regularly treat patients who have experienced trauma. This secondhand trauma can produce symptoms identical to those of posttraumatic stress disorder, including intrusive thoughts, irritability, loss of emotional control and loss of concentration. These symptoms may affect providers’ ability to respond to patients.

    Recent studies of health care providers indicate that close to half of providers experience compassion fatigue and a significant portion say it negatively affects their work.

  • Yoga Helps Me Manage PTSD

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    Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Chris Eder practices yoga, which helps him with posttraumatic stress disorder (Courtesy photo by Chris Eder)

    As our medical understanding of the brain continues to grow, treatment options for brain-related issues continue to expand. Service members with a psychological condition or traumatic brain injury now have a variety of clinical treatment options as well as supplemental care options. These choices for care can feel overwhelming or confusing at times. This series will feature stories by service members and veterans sharing how a particular treatment, either clinically recommended or complementary, helped them cope and heal. All experiences shared are that of the author. Anyone coping with a psychological health concern or traumatic brain injury should work with their health care provider to determine the best treatment option for their individual needs.

    In the first post, retired Air Force Master Sgt. Chris Eder describes how yoga helped him with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

    When I first practiced yoga in 1999, I wasn’t seeking enlightenment or to become a better person. I wasn’t even looking for relief from PTSD. I was in pain from a pinched sciatic nerve, and I discovered that yoga stretches made my pain go away for longer periods than cortisone shots. It wasn’t long before I noticed that yoga also relieved symptoms of my attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. I was hooked!

  • Food for Thought…About Nutrition, Performance, Resiliency and Recovery

    Read the full story: Food for Thought…About Nutrition, Performance, Resiliency and Recovery
    Photo courtesy U.S. Marine Corps
    In recognition of National Nutrition Month, Dr. Brian J. Grady, interim director of the National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2) wrote an article looking at the link between nutrition and overall psychological health. Grady shares how nutrition can impact a service member’s performance, resilience and medical recovery. He also shares helpful tools to help service members and their families make wise choices regarding food, including how to eat more mindfully.
  • What You Need to Know about Mindfulness Meditation

    Read the full story: What You Need to Know about Mindfulness Meditation

    Mindfulness meditation swiftly gained popularity as a self-care strategy for improving psychological health symptoms and overall resilience. Clinical evidence shows that this strategy works. DCoE wrote a series of mindfulness blogs to help you understand what mindfulness meditation is, how it can help, what studies and data support it, and how individuals can integrate it into their daily lives. Below is a quick rundown on the entire series, including what you need to know about mindfulness meditation and how to get started.

    What is mindfulness meditation?
    Mindfulness meditation comes from a Buddhist tradition. It increases awareness of the present by focusing on your breathing, body and thoughts. With continual practice, this technique trains the brain to stay in the present moment and can help you accept things for what they are, without judgment.

  • Providers: Stay Present, Reduce Burnout with Mindfulness

    We know mindfulness practices can help service members and veterans cope with their physical and psychological injuries. This practice is also a great tool for providers to build their own resilience while they treat wounded warriors.

    Treating members of the military can be a highly-rewarding experience, but it can also bring high levels of stress. Providers who treat service members, veterans and their families are at risk of experiencing compassion fatigue, burnout or secondary traumatic stress. Bearing witness to suffering and feeling powerless over other people’s pain can contribute to stress and fatigue, as do long hours, lack of social support and lack of downtime. Additionally, when providers are stressed and feel burned out, they may find it difficult to fully focus on their patients.

  • Sleep Issues Bedevil Soldiers’ Health

    Read the full story: Sleep Issues Bedevil Soldiers’ Health
    Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cliffton Dolezal

    Lack of sleep is a serious issue for many service members, as shown by the findings of a study on military sleep sponsored by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE). In particular, sleep issues are the “No. 1 military disorder” among soldiers who return from deployment after sustaining traumatic brain injuries, according to Lt. Col. Kate Van Arman, medical director of the Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic on Fort Drum, New York. This article by David Vergun from the Fort Leonard Wood “Guidon” recounts Van Arman’s presentation at the DCoE 2015 Summit on Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

    “I didn’t realize that all this time I’ve been in a formation of drunks,” the noncommissioned officer, or NCO, told Lt. Col. Kate Van Arman.

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