Furry Friendly Therapy for PTSD

Lauran Neergaard, writing for The Huffington Post, reported, “Brain Scans Reveals Invisible Damage of PTSD.”

Powerful scans measure how some of the brain’s regions are altered/damaged in the vicious cycle that is PTSD, where patients feel as if they are reliving a trauma instead of understanding that it’s just a memory.

With these scans, doctors may see how the brain has been changed in veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.”

In fact, Brain Facts.org reported that “Long-term or high levels of cortisol (brought on by PTSD) can also have damaging effects, causing toxicity and shrinkage of brain regions such as the hippocampus, a structure involved in memory formation.… an especially traumatic event can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which occurs when the stress system fails to recover from the event. This results in recurring flashbacks that can disrupt everyday life.”

However, Neergaard reports that these changes to the brain need not be permanent and may change with treatment.

One such treatment is canine therapy. In May 2010, the US Congress introduced the Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act through H.R. 3885, which required the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish a pilot program through which veterans diagnosed with PTSD or other mental health conditions would train service doges for use by disabled veterans. The pilot program would operate in three to five medical centers over a five-year period.

Next, in July 2011, VA.gov’s VAntage Point reported in Finding Solace in Companion Dogs that this new pilot program authorized by Congress was launched at the Marion VA Medical Center in Illinois. The focus has moved beyond the idea that dogs are only for guide purposes (example: the blind). The focus has shifted to their companionship
and therapeutic potential.

In addition, Palo Alto Online News reported that at the VA in Palo Alto: “Melissa Puckett, recreational therapist and PTSD supervisor in the men’s and women’s trauma-recovery program, said many vets deal with emotional numbness as part of PTSD. The dogs help them to receive touch and spontaneous affection and to express love — ‘things they thought they would never have again,’ she said.”

Then The New York Times reported in For the Battle-Scarred, Comfort at Leash’s End that “Veterans rely on their dogs to gauge the safety of their surroundings, allowing them to venture into public places without constantly scanning for snipers, hidden bombs and other dangers lurking in the minds of those with the disorder.”

Discover Before PTSD, it was called Combat Fatigue or Shell Shock

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Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

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Stanford Study shows effect of PTSD trauma on brain

There is current evidence that PTSD causes damage to areas of the brain. An ongoing study at the University of Stanford in California shows this to be true. http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_14014471?source=most_emailed&nclick_check=1

The history of PTSD http://www.psychiatric-disorders.com/articles/ptsd/causes-and-history/index.php says that this disorder wasn’t recognized until 1980. Although this means we have recognized PTSD for about thirty years now, that doesn’t mean we have reached a total understanding of what causes it and how to deal with it. Scientists and doctors are still learning. Compare PTSD to some cancers that modern medicine has dealt with for much longer and they still have no cure–just better ways to identify the cancer early and deal with it.  The earlier the discovery, the better chance for recovery and to live a life considered normal. Current evidence about PTSD is saying the same thing. If you have symptoms of cancer and ignore it, the odds are it won’t vanish. The same thing goes for PTSD.

I have read about research for other illnesses that show the longer a physical or psychologically health related problem is “not” treated, the less chance there is to overcome the damage caused.

One thing I’ve learned while living with PTSD for more than forty years is that a healthy lifestyle without booze helps me handle the trauma better.  Before I stopped drinking and eating an unhealthy diet, my PTSD symptoms were worse than they are now.  I still sleep with weapons and I still wake up at every sound and have trouble sleeping.  If I get four hours of sleep in one stretch, that’s good.

Before I sleep, I always do an inside perimeter check to make sure the windows and doors are locked. When I’m out in public, I’m alert to everything around me as if I were going to be attacked at any moment. I still have an unpredictable temper to watch over and there are times it escapes. Double that or triple it before I stopped drinking. The worse thing to do is be in denial and “not” to talk or write about it.  The first step to dealing with PTSD is to admit it is there and stop visiting the liquor store.

Imagine what life was like for people with PTSD before 1980.  How did WWI, WWII, and Korean War veterans deal with PTSD when they came home?  I read recently that the average Vietnam veteran’s lifespan is in the fifty age bracket.  Why do you think that is so?

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”