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  • Frontline Psych with Doc Bender: Is Stress Changing Your Life?

    Service member looking stressed
    U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Daniel Boothe

    Dr. James Bender is a former Army psychologist who deployed to Iraq as the brigade psychologist for the 1st Cavalry Division 4th Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Hood, Texas. During his deployment he traveled through Southern Iraq, from Basra to Baghdad. He writes a monthly post for the DCoE Blog on psychological health concerns related to deployment and being in the military.

    Feeling stressed? It’s OK, stress is normal, and even useful, and we all experience it at some point. But, like too much of anything, too much stress is bad. Chronic stress is an extreme amount of stress that lasts for an extended period of time and can take a serious toll on your physical and psychological health. This is different from the intense stress you feel when your life is in danger, the kind of stress that can lead to posttraumatic stress disorder. Both are examples of unproductive stress.

  • Resilient Marriage Equals Strong Marriage

    Couple looking at artwork
    U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera

    Tracey Linegar Taylor, an advanced practice nurse in psychiatry and a retired Army nurse corps officer, contributed this article. She is a contractor with Deployment Health Clinical Center, a Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury center.

    We’ve all heard relationships take work. Military marriages are no different. In fact, because of the unique stressors these families face, like multiple moves, deployments and combat-related injuries, military marriages may take more work.

    So, how can military families maintain strong relationships and overcome threats to their marriages? One word: resilience. Families who are resilient are more likely to have stronger, lasting relationships.

    Characteristics of Resilient Families

    In her book, “Strengthening Family Resilience,” resilience specialist Dr. Froma Walsh identifies nine characteristics that resilient families share. These characteristics highlight the family belief systems, organizational patterns, and communication and problem-solving skills that foster resilience.

  • 'People Magazine' Features Real Warriors Campaign Profilee Maj. Jeff Hall

    MAJ Jeff Hall
    Maj. Jeff Hall on patrol in Iraq in March 2005. (Photo courtesy of Real Warriors Campaign)

    “I was a broken man … helping others is my way of paying it forward.” — U.S. Army Maj. Jeff Hall

    After two tours of duty in Iraq, Maj. Jeff Hall found himself coping with posttraumatic stress disorder, depression and thoughts of suicide. Jeff and his wife Sheri, volunteers for DCoE’s Real Warriors Campaign, shared their story in the Feb. 18 print issue of “People Magazine.”

    The couple spoke candidly about how Jeff’s experiences during and after deployment affected their marriage and family life, their decision to seek psychological health care and how reaching out for help contributed to the long-term success of Jeff’s military career. Knowing Jeff needed help, Sheri mustered the courage to approach his commanding officer.

    “He said the opposite of what Jeff feared most,” said Sheri. “He said, ‘we’re going to fix this.’”

  • Strategies to Maintain Positive Health

    Total Force Fitness Model
    Total Force Fitness model

    Positive mental health is a state of well-being in which we realize our abilities, cope with life’s normal stresses, and work regularly and productively. Familiarity with stress management skills and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help you reduce depression, prevent a progression to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and may also reduce the chances of diminished work performance, obesity and injury.

    Focusing on mental health involves an awareness of all the domains of Total Force Fitness: spiritual, psychological, behavioral, social, physical, nutritional, medical and environmental. This means approaching your health as an integrated system, rather than one or more separate parts. Further, it’s important to know that positive mental health isn’t just the absence of mental disorders.

  • 2 Mobile Apps Help Patient-Provider Collaboration

    It's difficult to estimate how many of my psychotherapy patients actually completed homework between sessions. For those who returned to my office with an automatic thought record or other tracking tool, I'm guessing at least half completed it while sitting in the waiting room.

    One of the reasons National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2) developed the "T2 Mood Tracker" mobile app was to help patients have an easy and anonymous way to monitor, track and reference their moods and behaviors as well as other related health information over time. Instead of completing worksheets, users can slide buttons on their smartphone or tablet computer. And, to anyone looking over a user's shoulder, it just looks like he or she is playing a game, not actually completing therapy homework. Further, it's unusual to lose a phone or tablet, whereas those worksheets seem to magically disappear each week.

    t2 mood tracker mobile app
  • Tips on Reducing Job Interview Stress: Before, During and After

    Service member job interview
    U.S. Army photo by Dustin Senger

    If you’re like many people, the initial excitement felt after landing an interview with a potential employer turns quickly to feelings of nervousness about the interview and questions you may be asked, or questions you hope aren’t asked. To help you manage these unknowns and prepare for what follows, the Real Warriors Campaign article, “Tips on Reducing Job Interview Stress,” offers insight to help you build confidence and reduce stress during the job interview process.

    Before the Interview: Prepare
    You’ve secured the interview, now prepare for it. The interviewing process is an important opportunity for the employer to learn more about you in addition to what’s on your resume. It’s also a chance for you to learn more about the company and position for which you’re interviewing. Below are some best practices to help you organize your thoughts and gather essential information to share: