PTSD, therapy and pills…

The Army Times fronts a story about group therapy.

Three new studies looking at combat stress have found group exposure therapy seems to work, that troops with traumatic brain injuries are more likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder, and that stress debriefings held after traumatic events don’t appear to prevent PTSD.

The research comes as the Department of Veterans Affairs works to find the best treatment methods for combat veterans. It follows a report by Rand Corp. that showed only one treatment method — exposure therapy — has been proven to help PTSD in studies by objective researchers.

I remember a few months back, DOD researches were trying a “stress pill” to blunt traumatic memories.

Nashua Telegraph

“Some memories can be very disruptive. They come back to you when you don’t want to have them – in a daydream or nightmare or flashbacks – and are usually accompanied by very painful emotions,” said Roger Pitman, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School who is studying the approach. “This could relieve a lot of that suffering.”

Skeptics, however, argue that tinkering with memories treads into dangerous territory because memories are part of the very essence of a person’s identity, as well as crucial threads in the fabric of society that help humanity avoid the mistakes of the past.

When I was a young lad I worked for a mental health clinic. Drug reps came all the time. They would advertise their wares and then ask for data on how effective their drugs were. We never gave them specific data on patients, but a general idea about how our people were doing. One patient did a 180 on a new anti-psychotic. He went from ranting and not bathing to clean and calm. He later started to backslide but he was no longer as bad as before.

However, we still had to manage him. By that I mean help him take his meds, teach him some basic lifeskills and such. A casemanager still had to visit him every week to make sure he was ok. Several times drug reps would admit, to our faces, that group therapy (in combination with their drugs) was the best. We saw it time and again. Our psychiatrist could prescribe drugs, but group was where we made the money, so to speak. in that light, the Rand study does not surprise me.

PTSD is no different. I hate to say it, but the “stress pill” sounds like wish full thinking on the part of hospitals and DOD accountants who want to cut budgets for therapy. Therapy costs time and money. Mostly money when dealing with service members who are in the psych fields. I hope this gets more counselors in uniform and more vets the help they need. Maybe some day a pill will come, but I doubt it.

p.s. one time the Pfizer reps left us some clocks and watches. We almost sent them back. The watches were in the shape of the viagra pill (they said “pfizer” but the shape was recognized by my boss). The clocks? They had a blue plastic decal. It was about 3-4 hours long on the clock. The same lenght was one dose of, you guessed it, viagra. Plus if and “VIAGRA” in nice flowing, big script. We gave those away to friends and family except for one that was mounted HIGH above the reception desk. The lunch was good though. You could feed a small village with the food the reps would bring. One brought a 7′ long sub, and 6 gallons of soda. mmmmmmm….

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