Dr. Mario Trucillo contacted me about sharing this post from The American Recall Center, and I agreed. I have too many friends who have suffered/are suffering from PTSD, and if this information can help anyone else, I sincerely hope it does. Please pass this along to anyone who might benefit from it. And thank a vet today!
Veterans Day, observed on November 11, is an official United States federal holiday honoring men and women who have served in the armed services. A short history lesson (1) —Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. Hence, Armistice Day was created. Then in 1954, Armistice Day became Veterans Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who died in World War I. Don’t confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day. Veterans Day celebrates all military veterans who served; Memorial Day remembers veterans who died while serving.
Many vets return from their service just fine, and get on with their lives. Some return with physical injuries, both major and minor. And some return with mental health issues. One of the most common after a traumatic event is PTSD—Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The symptoms of PTSD can be terrifying, disrupting your life and making it hard to continue with your daily activities. Symptoms of PTSD can vary from person to person, but there are certain hallmarks of PTSD that are common. There are four types of PTSD symptoms (2) :
- Reliving the event (called a flashback)
- Avoiding situations that remind you of the event
- Feeling numb
- Feeling keyed up
Counseling and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) appear to be the most effective treatments for PTSD. Counseling means talking with a therapist about the traumatic event. The therapist listens to your concerns and helps you make changes in your life. Cognitive-behavioral therapy seems to be the most effective.
SSRIs are a type of antidepressant medicine that can help you feel less worried or sad. SSRIs include fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft). How do SSRIs work? Chemicals in your brain affect the way you feel. When you have PTSD, you may not have enough serotonin (a chemical that contributes to general happiness). SSRIs raise the level of serotonin in your brain. Studies show that SSRIs improve symptoms of non-combat-related PTSD; however, studies are mixed about whether SSRIs work as well for combat-related PTSD. (3)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an advisory (4) on antidepressant medicines and the risk of suicide in children and adults. The FDA has not recommended that children and young adults stop using antidepressants. However, a person taking antidepressants should be watched for warning signs of suicide (especially at the beginning of treatment or when doses are changed).
Additionally, the FDA has asked drug companies to include a “black box” warning in their package inserts (PIs); this is the government’s strongest medication warning. The warning is in bold letters inside a black box and recommends that anyone considering the use of the antidepressant in a child or young adult carefully balance the risk of taking the drug with the need to use it.
Paxil is a popular choice for treating PTSD. Additional information is available about Paxil, its side effects, and its black box warning.
If you’re a vet, thank you for your service! If you need more information, visit the US Department of Veterans Affairs and specifically the Veterans Health Administration. Click on “PTSD COACH” to find online help for PTSD.
- Benedek DM, et al. (2009). Guideline Watch: Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients With Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. American Psychiatric Association. Available online: http://www.psychiatryonline.com/pracguide/PracticePDFs/AcuteStressDisorder-PTSD_GuidelineWatch.pdf