Wednesday, 27 May 2009

What percentage of Veterans have PTSD?

The figures quoted vary widely round the world - here is the latest estimate from Australia as reported by ABC News:

A mental health expert believes up to 10 per cent of war veterans are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the condition is leading to cardiovascular disease.

Associate Professor Mal Hopwood from Austin Health in Melbourne has addressed the Congress of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists in Adelaide.

Professor Hopwood says the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has made improvements in treating PTSD, but more needs to be done.

"One of the current areas of concern is the gap some people experience between leaving the ADF and then receiving mental health care as an entitled veteran," he said.

"Sometimes that gap can take several years and clearly that's not ideal in terms of getting early intervention for mental health problems."

Friday, 22 May 2009

New book for people with physical pain

Many people with psychological problems also find they suffer from physical pain which is either unexplained or is greater than it ought to be, given the physical cause. 'How to liberate yourself from pain' is the latest title from HG publishing, and was written by Denise Winn and Dr Grahame Brown of the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust in Birmingham. 

In the preface, Christopher Buckley, Professor of Rheumatology at the University of Birmingham, writes: “Dr Brown has a real gift for helping people heal themselves – I know: I’m one of them!” 

If you have pain and would like to try a new approach to reducing it, this book could be useful.  

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The HGI's Practice Research Network

As you may know if you have looked around the PTSD resolution website, our first-line treatment for post-traumatic symptoms is Human Givens therapy.  We use it because it has so many advantages in practice: it brings rapid results, it works with most people, and it produces substantial reductions in post-traumatic symptoms without having to discuss the contents of sufferers' traumatic memories.  

The Human Givens Foundation’s recently held its AGM, when HGI Research Fellow Dr. Bill Andrews (on the left) summarised how human givens therapists are currently producing the most robust and comprehensive data on therapeutic outcomes in the UK. 

“Since data collection commenced 
in April 2007 within the Human Givens Institute Practice Research Network (HGIPRN) we are now able to profile the therapeutic journey of over 2,500 clients, involving over 90 therapists. Tracking client journeys all the way from referral to recovery helps us to accurately represent the impact of our treatments across a wide range of client populations. 

We believe that for our practice-based evidence to be meaningful it must be robust, fully inclusive and comprehensive. At the moment, we are the only school of therapy doing this and the results to date are extremely promising. 

We are committed to leading the field in this endeavour – you can read more about our work at 

At the HGI we encourage all our therapists to work in an outcome- informed way – so if you are a practitioner working in tune with the human givens, whether in training or fully qualified, and are not yet contributing your data, we urge you to please do so (see our website for details). You will help your clients, yourself and the cause, which is to improve mental health services nationwide.”

Sunday, 17 May 2009

PTSD - what's it like? A Resolution client sent this.

Ask any old soldier and he will tell you the importance of concentration when on the drill square, changing step on the march can find you floundering at the wrath of a red faced drill sergeant if your mind is elsewhere. Getting it together again as quickly as possible is vital for your dignity.

My path of spiralling madness and anger has brought me to rest at a place of peace and tranquillity, from where I can look back at my twisted approach to thishigher ground.  I see a man adrift running like a rat in a maze, cart wheeling through streets of a Midland town asking strangers for his answer. I hear a hundred empty glasses slammed on a hundred sodden bar tops, see the head in hand agony of a drowning man, the fuming anger the spittle gathering and flying in surprised faces.  The predictable foot fall from bar to bar the blurring of days and time the inevitable decent into a raging madness.

Unlike the voice that screams at you on the drill square and puts you back in place there is no voice out here.  There are if you are lucky the words of those who have not yet deserted you, which almost inevitably you will ignore.  There are the memories of what you were before all this, which tug and wake you in the night but are forgotten with the new day and the renewed anger at being still alive. 

Then,if you survive all this there is the emptiness you feel when you see the wasted time and the damage you have wreaked on those around you. 

Slowly, try to wash the rant from your mind let the fury pass through you and melt away, you will build nothing with your anger. You will not move one step with that heavy load.  Smile at it like an old enemy,no longer a threat but passing you by on a busy street.  Become something else, something born from an experience that you refuse to waste.  Snap back into a pace that you set, rejoin the march but whistle your own tune from now on. 

After all this you have earned your peace, your path will stretch before you to the horizon, and you will look back upon all that delivered you here, and not regret one day because everything you did brought you to this place.



So many problems and they're all one

Governments, ours included, are in a bind: admit liability for the psychological distress of their armed forces and face an endless bill ($4Billion a year in the US to support Vietnam vets alone), or deny it is really a problem and still have to pay for the social, medical and personal carnage it causes. Which costs more? nobody knows.  It's certainly time we found out.  But we at Resolution know one thing, that much of this difficulty could be avoided by accepting one idea:  treat people at the point when they start to feel ill, and treat them in a way that leaves them focussed on their life rather than their difficulties.  
Once the trauma is under control you can move on and rebuild your life, and there are ten or so things that every human needs to have in place in order to do this satisfactorily.  These are not profound, they are things like security, control, attention from others, membership of social groups, a feeling of competence and a sense that life has a meaning.  These are fundamental needs for everyone, but it is hard for traumatised people to get these needs met.  The wonderful thing is, though, that when post-traumatic symptoms have been reduced to the point where people can get these needs met properly, they start to feel part of things again.  The feelings of isolation, unreality, differentness or whatever start to melt away.
You can't change the past, and the memories will always be there.  But when treatment works well, as it usually does, they don't carry the same emotional charge they did.  We're encouraging some of our former patients to write their own recovery stories now, and we'll post them here as they come in. 

Saturday, 16 May 2009

A stitch in time

The problems caused by PTSD tend to multiply with time.  Someone who has been traumatised may decide not to go to the pub, or to a reunion, in order to avoid reminders of the traumatic events.  Or they may stop going to the cinema, watching TV or reading the paper for the same reason.  The strategy of avoidance does work up to a point, but then it starts to create its own problems.  We are a social species - we actually need to spend time with friends, comrades and family - and anyone who can't get these basic social needs met will start to feel more unwell. This in turn raises the overall emotional state, increasing the chance of the original PTSD symptoms becoming problematic, and so it goes on.  As the cycle continues people may turn to alcohol or other drugs to numb the emotional results, and this can cause its own problems - it seems highly likely that many of the veterans now in prison would never have got there but for their post-traumatic symptoms.
This is why Resolution is so keen to spread the idea that PTSD treatment should be available as soon as anyone starts to feel disturbed by their memories.  If you feel depressed or angry,  or have flashbacks or nightmares as a result of military service why not look at the website, and see how we work, and then contact us?  Treatment is free in most cases.

Piers Bishop
Resolution director
0845 021 7873