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  • [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.

  • 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.

  • Experts Explore How Combat Roles May Affect Women’s Psychological Health

    Read the full story: Experts Explore How Combat Roles May Affect Women’s Psychological Health
    DCoE photo by Terry Welch

    The military is a lot different for women today than it was 20 years ago. More women serve and they serve in many new roles, including combat. Exploring the challenges women service member’s may face, and how those challenges may affect their psychological health, was the focus of a panel discussion during the 2016 Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Summit.

    Expanded Roles for Women in the Military

    The history of our nation’s military isn’t complete without women. Since the Revolutionary War women cared for the wounded and supported a variety of military operations.

    The number of female service members started to climb in 1994 when the direct ground combat definition and assignment rule went into effect, said Dr. Tracey Koehlmoos, health services administration division director at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. This definition and rule allowed women to fill more military occupations as long as they weren’t in direct combat.

  • 6 Mobile Apps to Help You Fight Depression

    Read the full story: 6 Mobile Apps to Help You Fight Depression
    U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ryan L. Tomlinson

    For a quick look at depression in the United States, check out these statistics:

    • Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in our country, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
    • Our country ranks third as the most depressed country in the world, according to the World Health Organization.
    • Approximately one in five adult Americans experiences some form of mental illness each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

    With reports like these, we should keep tools to fight depression handy. The National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2), with the Department of Veterans Affairs, designs tools like apps for your smartphone. And these days, there are few things handier than a mobile app.

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

    Read the full story: ‘What Did You Say?’ Hearing Loss and Brain Injuries
    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.

  • Defense Department News: Military Crisis Line Specialist Helps Fellow Veterans

    Read the full story: Defense Department News: Military Crisis Line Specialist Helps Fellow Veterans
    Image of sailor with text: Confidential crisis chat or or text to 838255; 1CALL can save a LIFE;1-800-273-8255 press 1; U.S. Department of Defense; Military Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255 press1

    Knowing where to turn in a time of crisis is important. Many of us have family members, fellow service members, colleagues or friends we can reach out to. But, it’s not always easy, or best, to talk about what we’re going through with someone close to us. A recent Defense Department article explores how a crisis line specialist helps other veterans.