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  • Alcohol Use, PTSD among Combat Servicewomen

    Read the full story: Alcohol Use, PTSD among Combat Servicewomen
    U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amy M. Ressler

    Women didn’t officially serve in ground combat positions until 2013. However, many of them did their jobs in real-time combat settings, often under direct fire. Despite this, research on how deployment affects women is limited. Scientists discussed the need for more research and other post-deployment concerns that affect female service members during a webinar hosted by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

    Where’s the Data?

    Almost half of female service members eligible for care through the Defense Health Agency do not use it. This lack of use makes it harder to gather data on their post-combat experiences. Also, most of the post-deployment studies on PTSD and substance use disorder occurred before women openly served in combat. This means most deployment-related studies do not accurately reflect the experiences of women.

  • How to Stop Using Substances to Relax

    Read the full story: How to Stop Using Substances to Relax
    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.

  • Clinician’s Corner: Journal Highlights Health Needs of Women in Combat

    Read the full story: Clinician’s Corner: Journal Highlights Health Needs of Women in Combat

    We are living in a time of great change. Change offers us many opportunities for positive growth. At the same time, change may create unanswerable questions, generate heated discussions or even produce anxiety in those impacted most by the change.

    Military Integration Changes

    The Defense Department has seen a number of significant changes related to structure and mission. Notably, in 2013, the secretary of defense rescinded the 1994 Direct Combat Definition and Assignment Rule, which had previously closed many combat-related military occupational specialties to female service members. This decision raised questions about the best ways to integrate women into these positions and focused attention on the physical and psychological health needs of all military females.

    In the spring of 2014, the Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP) and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs hosted the Women in Combat Symposium. More than 90 policy makers, researchers and service members from across the Defense Department examined women-in-combat issues related to fitness and health, operational, environmental, community and cultural factors. DCoE helped shape the symposium’s content and dialogue. My colleagues and I facilitated group discussions about the psychological health needs, resilience, and overall well-being of women in combat positions.

  • Clarify ‘One Drink’ to Best Assess Alcohol Misuse, Treat Patients

    Read about the Webinar Rewind: Clarify ‘One Drink’ to Best Assess Alcohol Misuse, Treat Patients
    Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

    Everyone likes to go out, have a good time and unwind from busy schedules. But using alcohol to help relax can be problematic.

    Cmdr. David S. Barry, a psychologist with Deployment Health Clinical Center, explained that providers should ensure patients understand exactly what “one drink” means during a July 23 webinar hosted by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

  • Clinician’s Corner: Tips to Stay Engaged in Therapy

    Read the story: Clinician’s Corner: Tips to Stay Engaged in Therapy
    U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Luke Rollins

    Christina Schendel, is a licensed psychologist and is special assistant for strategy integration for the Deployment Health Clinical Center. This article is written for providers and references scientific language and research.

    As clinicians, we’ve all had patients who struggle to remain engaged in therapy, especially after a breakthrough, challenging session or even an alliance rupture. We know that almost half of patients leave psychotherapy too soon, which reduces the effectiveness of therapy. Taking a look at ourselves as therapists, and the therapeutic relationship, can help us find ways to stay engaged and keep patients as active participants in their therapy.

  • Mindfulness Meditation Can Help Your Brain Handle Stress

    Read the Full Story: Mindfulness meditation can help your brain handle stress
    U.S. Army photo

    This is the first in a series of posts on mindfulness meditation. Future posts will feature mindfulness meditation techniques and how the practice can help treat various health concerns.

    After two tours of duty in Iraq, Michael (not his real name) struggled with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mild depression. A psychiatrist prescribed the 32-year-old service member medication and exposure therapy and saw him every two weeks.

    The therapy helped, but after a year Michael had trouble keeping up with the visits. He didn’t want to backslide; was there something he could do at home? Actually, there is: mindfulness meditation.