PTSD DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
"There is a wisdom in our body...I think that in general the concept of post-traumatic stress disorder has allowed us to acknowledge that trauma effects last. They endure. They don’t all go away. And now, epigenetics allows us to extend it to generational."
— Dr. Rachel Yehuda, On Being with Krista Tippett
Dr. Rachel Yehuda is an incredible researcher as Director of the Traumatic Stress Studies Division at Mount Sinai. After listening to this podcast, we reached out to her to consult and she really helped us understand the nuances of trauma and its impact on the body.
“Last year, more active-duty soldiers committed suicide than died in battle. This fact has been reported so often that it has almost lost its jolting force. Almost. Worse, according to data not reported on until now, the military evidently responded to stress that afflicts soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan primarily by drugging soldiers on the front lines.”
Friedman revealed the staggering use of psychoactive drugs to treat stress and mental health issues in active-duty soldiers. As civilians, we knew nothing about the startling increases in prescription rates for a wide range of medications, including atypical antipsychotics and mood stabilizers. In reviewing Alex's medical records, we learned that he had been put on many of the medications referenced by Friedman, including Topomax. His research was crucial in understanding the larger increase and reliance on these medications, despite significant health risks and lack of research and transparency.
"He doesn’t believe anything is wrong with him… Nothing missing. Symmetrical as ever. No scarred-over bullet holes. No skin grafts over bomb burns… He is physically unmarked, so how can he be injured? The answer must be that he isn’t.
So why was he sent home with a diagnosis of severe PTSD? The answer must be that he’s weak. So why was that diagnosis confirmed again and again once he was home? Why does he get angry? Why does he forget things? Why is he jittery? Why can’t he stay awake, even after twelve hours of sleep? Because he’s weak.”
Finkel’s book greatly informed our understanding of modern veterans and the impact of combat on their return to civilian life. Specifically, this book revealed the struggle veterans face when they feel that they look normal, but internally, they have severe injury to their mental & emotional health.
RETURNING HOME AND READJUSTMENT
“Epic tradition hints at the dilemmas of military commemoration. In “The Iliad,” Achilles must choose between… glory or a safe return home. By dying at Troy, Achilles was assured of undying fame as the greatest of all heroes. His choice reflects an uneasy awareness that it is far easier to honor the dead soldier than the soldier who returns. Time-tested and time-honored, the commemoration rites we observe each Memorial Day … represent a satisfying formula of remembrance by the living for the dead … The commemoration of the veteran — the survivor who did not fall on the field of war — is less starkly defined.”
— Caroline Alexander / New York Times Op-Ed
"It’s more that their identity is now wrapped around the identity of the warrior. Look, I’m not a shrink. I’m taking a guess at what happens to them psychologically. Their identity is now that of a warrior, and they don’t know what they would be, or who they would be in civilian life. So they go back to combat because at least that’s an identity that they like and that they’re proud of. “
Sebastian Junger in an interview with Task & Purpose
This book greatly inspired and informed Director Alix Blair.