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  • Are PTSD, Smoking Related? Next DCoE Webinar Has Answer

    Service member smokes a cigarette
    U.S. Army photo by Spc. Michael Sharp

    We’re warned about the dangers of smoking because of its harmful effects on our health. Yet, cigarette use remains the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States and kills 443,000 people each year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. We know how difficult it is to stop the habit. But what about a smoker who also has posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? What do we know about that relationship?

    Here are some facts:

    • Veterans with PTSD smoke twice as much as the national rate
    • Veterans with PTSD are heavy smokers compared to veterans without PTSD
  • Century-old Experiment Helps Researchers Understand PTSD

    Illustration of a three-dimensional side view of the brain
    Photo courtesy of National Institutes of Health

    Why do posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms persist in some people and not others? An experiment performed more than 100 years ago is helping us find answers.

    Our team and researchers at other top universities are learning more about PTSD using Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov’s famous “conditioned response” experiment. Working with service members with and without PTSD, we hope to better understand the disorder to improve diagnosis and treatment.

    The experiment

    One experiment, based on Pavlov’s discovery, involves observing how someone with PTSD experiences fear. The feeling of fear is an important cue to deciding if our surroundings are safe or dangerous. It also prepares us to respond. A part of the brain known as the amygdala plays a big role in deciding whether to stay where we are or run away, the “fight or flight” response.

  • Are You Listening?

    Two service members together talking
    U.S. Army photo by Kim Wheeler, Fort Jackson Leader

    As a caregiver for a husband with traumatic brain injury (TBI), Rosemary Rawlins shares insights garnered from her own experiences along with insights from other caregivers and family members in her blog, “Learning by Accident,” on BrainLine. In this blog post, Rosemary reminds us that sometimes the most helpful thing we can do for our loved ones is to just listen to them.

    Here’s one simple way that caregivers can help their family members with TBI: just listen.

    Listening is an act of love, and it’s critical for caregivers. In the day-to-day rush, it’s easy to half-listen or not offer your full attention. But listening well allows you to better understand your loved one’s feelings, challenges and needs, which will help you handle problems and know when to offer encouragement.

  • Does Stigma Have You Cornered? Regain Control, Seek Help for Your Mental Health

    A group of soldiers engage in conversation around a table
    U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jennifer Andersson

    Have you experienced mental health-related stigma? Some describe it as the crushing feeling of shame, fear of ridicule or embarrassment felt at the very thought of seeking mental health care. As you can imagine, this stigma is a major barrier to care and treatment for service members and veterans who experience psychological health concerns, such as posttraumatic stress, depression or substance abuse.

    You’ve probably heard people say that only “weak” people talk about their problems or that “real soldiers” handle their own business. Perhaps you’ve had thoughts or heard that reaching out for help may adversely affect your career. Are these beliefs true?

  • Introducing New Clinical Recommendations for Concussion Recovery

    Doctor uses a stethoscope to examine patient
    U.S. Army photo by Robert Shields

    Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) provides health care professionals with evidence-based psychological health and traumatic brain injury resources. We want to make sure you have the tools to effectively care for service members, families and veterans.

    The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC), a DCoE center, recently released new clinical recommendations to help service members who have sustained a concussion, also known as mild traumatic brain injury (mild TBI), gradually return to activity. The first-of-its-kind tools provide a stepped-process that uses patient feedback with provider assessment.

    The “Progressive Return to Activity Following Acute Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: Guidance for the Primary Care Manager and the Rehabilitation Provider in the Deployed and Non-deployed Setting” resource suite includes four separate clinical support tools for primary care managers and rehabilitation providers.

  • Happy Birthday Facebook! Thanks for Helping Us Share, Connect

    Today, Facebook celebrates 10 years of connecting people online. The digital powerhouse connects more than 1 billion users all around the world. These connections prove that the Internet has changed the way we communicate.

    The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) launched a page on Facebook in December 2009. Our main goal—to educate and engage people on topics related to psychological health and traumatic brain injury.

    During the last few years we’ve enjoyed communicating with our audience. We’ve shared valuable news and resources, and hosted special events like the “Week of Remembrance” and the first “Virtual Mental Health Fair.”