PTSD: Veterans Seek Peace of Mind; Phila VA Helps
by, 10-08-2010 at 08:47 AM (3121 Views)
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is considered the most prevalent mental disorder among military personnel returning from deployment in Afghanistan and Iraq. Surveys show 12.6 percent of veterans of the Iraq war and 6.2 percent of Afghanistan veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD. When the US Department of Veteran Affairs asked the Institute of Medicine to review the literature on the best interventions for PTSD, their report, Treatment of PTSD: An Assessment of the Evidence (2007), found there was insufficient research. The only exception was exposure therapies, in which individuals overcome their fears by being exposed to real or simulated threats in a safe environment. The IOM concluded that their review "underscores the urgent need for additional high-quality studies that assist clinicians in providing the best possible care."
Congress established the Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Centers (MIRECC) with the goal of researching the causes and treatments of mental disorders and putting knowledge into practice at VA facilities. The Philadelphia VA Medical Center is piloting a MIRECC clinical project called Families At Ease, designed to reach out to family members of military veterans. Families are instructed to be aware of behaviors that signal the need for help, including sleep problems, restlessness, watchfulness, easily angered, social withdrawal, depression and reckless driving. Families and veterans in the Philadelphia area can call 1-888-823-7458 or E-mail: Families.Ease.PA@va.gov for more information.
For the latest on PTSD, visit the National Center for PTSD (www.ptsd.va.gov). The website features online course modules in PTSD 101, access to the PILOTS (Published International Literature on Traumatic Stress) database, and a unique presentation called "Iraq Never Leaves Us," a first-hand account of PTSD by veteran Bob Page.
Deborah Fishman, RN, MSN, PMHCNS-BC is part of the PTSD team at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. The clinic offers individual, family and group counseling, including Seeking Safety, a six-session series that utilizes cognitive therapy. Fishman finds her work immensely gratifying, and says couples "are so relieved to find out what was going on" and that help is available. Nurses should advise veterans to enroll through the philadelphia.va.gov website or by phone at 215-823-5800 or 1-800-949-1001.
Check out Janet Boivin's article "War on the Mind" in the 9/27 issue of Nursing Spectrum/NurseWeek, for an in depth look at how military nurses are coping with PTSD.
Donna Novak, RN, MSN, CRNP
Director, Nursing Communications & Initiatives
Phila/Tri-State Nursing Spectrum