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  • Tips from Real Warriors: What to Expect in Therapy

    Read the full story: Tips from Real Warriors: What to Expect in Therapy
    U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Calvert

    Most of us are familiar with a cartoon depiction of what therapy looks like: a person on a couch sharing personal fears to a serious looking provider who sits in a chair with a notepad analyzing every word. If this is your only experience of what therapy is, it can seem quite daunting! One barrier to seeking treatment for a treatable psychological health condition can be fear of the unknown. A recent article by Real Warriors shares tips on how to get ready for your first appointment, and what to expect during the process.

    Thinking about attending a therapy session for the first time might make you feel uncomfortable. You may think seeking care will make you look weak or others will lose confidence in your abilities. Know that reaching out is a sign of strength. Seeking care early can lead to positive outcomes that benefit you, your family and your unit.

  • 4 Tips to End Numbness and Reconnect with Your Emotions

    Read the full story: 4 Tips to End Numbness and Reconnect with Your Emotions
    U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Luke Talbot

    Feeling emotionally numb or disconnected from those close to you, or from life in general, is a common symptom of some psychological health conditions. If you feel emotional numbness, there are actions you can take to improve your emotional well-being and your psychological health. Below are four tips that may help:

    • Start with your doctors. Your family doctor can help you identify any physical issue that may cause you emotional distress. You can also reach out to a psychological health care provider such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor or social worker to learn techniques you can use to bring your feelings back. For more information on what to ask a psychological health care provider, visit the Real Warriors Campaign website.
    • Talk to those you trust. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with your family, friends or chaplain may help you find the motivation you need to make changes that will improve your mood and feelings. You can also reach out to the DCoE Outreach Center, available day or night. Call 866-966-1020, email or live chat with a resource expert.
  • Signs of Respect: Support Veterans with PTSD this Fourth of July

    Read the full story: Signs of Respect: Support Veterans with PTSD this Fourth of July
    Military members and their families watch a fireworks display during a Fourth of July celebration event at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeff Troutman)

    From the top of a hill in my northwest neighborhood in the District of Columbia, you can see the U.S. Capitol in the distance. On the Fourth of July, many of my neighbors gather here as the sun sets to watch the national fireworks display.

    The dome of the Capitol, illuminated beneath the fireworks’ spectacular bursts of color, reminds us why we do this every year — our freedom, the fight for it and the lasting need to defend it.

    PTSD and Fireworks

    For days before and after the official celebration, spontaneous neighborhood festivities abound. Sparklers amuse children. Firecrackers and roman candles entertain teenagers and adults. Smoke and the smell of gunpowder linger in the summer heat, blending with the smell of backyard barbecue.

    Although patriotic in spirit, impromptu fireworks do not ignite universal delight. These unexpected explosions cause some service members and combat veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to experience overwhelming anxiety.

  • Curious About PTSD? Start Your Research Here

    Read the full story: Curious About PTSD? Start Your Research Here

    In 2010, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution naming June 27 National Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Day to increase public knowledge of this condition and help promote PTSD resources and PTSD treatment options.

    Help for Patients, Providers

    The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) offers a number of resources to help service members and veterans with PTSD, providers who treat patients with the condition, and those who want to spread awareness. The DCoE website provides access to general information about PTSD, myths and facts about PTSD, and available PTSD treatment options.

    Bookmark (and share) these top resources:

    • PTSD 101 Infographic: Created by DCoE, this graphic reviews the basics of PTSD. It is available for download including the common causes, symptom categories, PTSD numbers and clinically recommended treatment options.
  • What Is PTSD?

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    Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that people can develop after being exposed to one or more traumatic events such as a serious accident, combat, or sexual or physical assault. PTSD may also result from direct, indirect or repeated exposure to details of an event, as in the case of first responders, clinicians or other caregivers who work with trauma patients.

    Symptoms of PTSD include re-experiencing the traumatic event in the form of flashbacks, memories, nightmares, or frightening thoughts.

  • 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!