Emory Healthcare Veterans Program

Common Questions About PTSD

common ptsd questionsThere are many misconceptions about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and how it can be treated. By exploring a few fallacies about the disorder, the team at Emory Healthcare Veterans Program wants to emphasize that it is possible to heal invisible wounds through evidence-based treatment.

Misconception: There is no cure for PTSD

Believing that PTSD is incurable may be the most harmful misconception because it prevents warriors from seeking help. Life after PTSD is possible because evidence-based treatment works.

Seventy-five percent of warriors who complete treatment through Emory Healthcare Veterans Program experience a dramatic decrease in PTSD symptoms and many have shared their experience, proving that treatment works. See video testimonials.

Misconception: You can only get PTSD if you saw combat

PTSD is a disorder that can occur as a result of a traumatic event. Combat may be a source of PTSD, but it is certainly not the only one. Other life events, such as actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence, can also lead to PTSD. However, exposure to trauma does not mean that an individual will suffer from PTSD. People can react in many ways to trauma exposure, including natural recovery or resilience.

Question: My friend and I experienced the same event. Why did I get PTSD but he/she didn’t?

Most people will be exposed to some type of trauma in their lifetime; however, most will not develop PTSD. Various protective and risk factors play a role in whether individuals will develop PTSD (or another mental health diagnosis) following trauma, including environmental, genetic, and cultural factors.

Question: Why would I want to relive the memory?

PTSD is a disorder marked by avoidance, so it makes sense that facing the memory would be frightening. However, it is that very avoidance (of the memory, of traumatic reminders, of painful emotions) that helps maintain the symptoms of PTSD, such as intrusive thoughts, anxiety, and anger.

Through prolonged exposure (PE) therapy, individuals learn that the memory itself is not harmful or dangerous and that they can tolerate the distress that they’re avoiding. Through repeated exposure, individuals learn to place the memory into the appropriate context and emotionally process the event. While reliving the memory is difficult, the result of PE is a decline in the distress associated with the event and a decline in PTSD symptoms.

 

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Emory Healthcare Veterans Program is Helping Heal the Invisible Wounds of War

military familyEmory Healthcare launched the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program Sept. 1, a new program for veterans offering clinical care, research and education, focusing on comprehensive treatment for post-9/11 veterans suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), anxiety, depression and conditions stemming from Military Sexual Trauma (MST). Comprised of several initiatives committed to the health and wellbeing of veterans, including Wounded Warrior Project’s newly established Warrior Care Network, Emory is one of four academic medical centers that make up the national network offering quality mental health care for post-9/11 veterans, at no cost to qualified individuals.

“Our program focuses on helping heal the invisible wounds of war, particularly posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury,” says Barbara Rothbaum, PhD, director of Emory Healthcare Veterans Program and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine.

According to research conducted by RAND Corporation, about 18.5% of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans suffer from PTSD or depression, and 19.5% report having experienced a traumatic brain injury during deployment.

Emory Healthcare Veterans Program is collaborative by design and incorporates top specialists in psychiatry, psychology, neurology, rehabilitative medicine and wellness into a treatment team that assesses each veteran’s needs in order to develop a comprehensive, individualized treatment plan.

“It is important to be able to meet a veteran where he is, and provide individualized treatment plans using a collaborative approach,” says Rothbaum. “We’re so committed to this that we have hired veterans to fill critical positions within the program to ensure we are appropriately meeting the needs of the service members we treat.”

Treating victims of military sexual trauma is another aspect of the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 20,000 service members, both male and female, endured military sexual trauma in 2014 alone, ranging from sexually hostile work environments to rape. Treatment often involves prolonged exposure therapy that incorporates virtual reality technology as well as other types of therapy and medications.

Collaborating with the Center for Deployment Psychology and several other organizations, Emory’s Veterans Program strives to enhance providers’ ability to deliver quality care to veterans. The program provides free, specialized training to community behavioral health providers in understanding military culture and how it plays a part in the treatment of service members.

For more information about the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program, visit www.emoryhealthcare.org/veterans. To reach the Care Coordinator, call 888-514-5345.