Dropping the D from PTSD

The president of the American Psychiatric Association says he is “very open” to a request from the Army to come up with an alternative name for post-traumatic stress disorder so that troops returning from combat will feel less stigmatized and more encouraged to seek treatment.

Dr. John Oldham, who serves as senior vice president and chief of staff at the Houston-based Menninger Clinic, said he is looking into the possibility of updating the association’s diagnostic manual with a new subcategory for PTSD. The subcategory could be “combat post-traumatic stress injury,” or a similar term, he said.

“It would link it clearly to the impact and the injury of the combat situation and the deployment experience, rather than what people somewhat inaccurately but often assume, which is that you got it because you weren’t strong enough,” Oldham said.

The potential change was prompted by a request from Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army’s vice chief of staff, who wrote to Oldham last year, suggesting APA drop the world “disorder” from PTSD.

I am not going to say this came from me, however there are some interesting things that have happened in the past of which I am connected to. I have been saying for about four years that we should NOT use the “D” in PTSD for every soldier that has been diagnosed. I have made this statement in many public forums with the argument that people can suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress without having a disorder. I commonly call it PTS or more recently I have seen it called PTSS for Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

On June 18th, 2009 we had GEN Chiarelli as a guest on You Served Radio where we talked to him about this stress, the Army’s Suicide problems, and many other topics. The discussion went extremely well and in all honesty was one of the most notable episodes of the You Served Radio show.

I didn’t get a chance to mention my feelings on dropping the “D” to him so there is no direct correlation however it has been something that I have pushed for a while and I am highly encouraged others like GEN Chiarelli are feeling the same way.

Oldham cautioned the discussion is very preliminary but speculated that a new subcategory like “combat post-traumatic stress injury” might work.

Although Chiarelli still would prefer to lose “disorder” entirely, he said a new subcategory would be a start. “I’m frustrated with how long this is taking to be honest,” he said….

….Chiarelli says his main concern is getting soldiers into treatment, so if calling post-traumatic stress a disorder keeps them from seeking help, then the wording needs to change, the sooner the better.

Read the whole story over at http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Idea-to-take-the-D-out-of-PTSD-studied-2556372.php



5 thoughts on “Dropping the D from PTSD”

  1. Troy. This is just very, very encouraging to read. I remember your broadcast with GEN Chiarelli very well. On of the best. This is an issue that I feel very strongly about. Here’s hoping we can get some movement along those lines up here in Canada.

    Take Care.

    Jim Davidson

  2. I have wriitten a post about this on my blog.

    The war has raged for a decade it seems and PTSD is epidemic already. The full number o solids effected is 15 or 20 yards away like the Vietnam war. The sigma comes from soldiers made to feel like admitting they have a mental issue is a weakness.

    In professional sports a football player who does not play hurt is labelled soft. last year a quarterback for the Bears was hurt. Players around the league questioned his manhood for not gutting it out. This is only a game but the culture is similar. Does not matter what name is given PTSD, PTS or clueless, admitting you have PTSD has consequences for that soldier.

    Why are we. It being proactive with the new cortisol test available. You can test a soldier upon waking and a half hour latter to see if he/she is susceptible to getting trauma related injuries. We could place these soldiers in support roles preventing any more PTSD or curbing the numbers. Every one saved is one less to heal.

    Why not be proactive and train our soldiers with a mindfulness practice they can start using before exposed to the gore of combat. help is needed immediately and I see this is a decision that has been in play for three years.


  3. Not being a vet please humor me by answering a couple of questions. I have been watching Bomb Patrol Afghanistan about a Navy EOD team working with the Army defusing IED’s during their tour. I noticed several things.
    One of the men was promoted to be Team leader in the vehicle but seemed to have no preparation for what that role entailed.He continued as though he was on his own, not communicating with the team,and generally treating them as he was doing the work and they should shut the f up. It created a horrible atrmosphere so much so that they were recalled to base and the gunney/ chief rode with them. The chief seemed to want to straighten out the other members of the team and the new leader and after some time things straightened out. My thinking was doesn’t anybody give these guys some management training? Because in the time it took to sort it out a 3 man team in that truck was pretty usless and could have killed themselves.
    Point two after their extremely stressful tour, it seemed like an interminable wait to be processed, and out of there but straight back to Coronado and family.
    Isn’t there any debriefing and checking for stress problems before sending them back? You can’t just send guys who are screwed up back to their families where they will cover it up? A better atmospher would be to try and deal with it while everybody was still there and they could open up about it? Make this manadatory so nobody would have to ask about it. Also make it peer pressure as well. What I mean by that is on the civillian job everybody knows who is screwing up except the boss.If you get everybody in a meeting on their own with a neutral non (report back to management,confidential) moderator, you soon find out who is the problem and why. By getting the group to confront it they then usually feel empowered to do something about it, if the offender is not going to be hurt but helped. Example is Drunk Pilots, they get a lot of help from the airlines in rehab time and their job is waiting for them.
    Sorry going on too long but I think you get the idea.
    You have to find the guys who need the help, get it to them in the most shamesless way and give them follow up. If they had an injury with a festering bullet wound would eberybody keep quiet?

  4. Hi, I read your article with interest. I would imagine that anyone coming back from such a destructive place would need some type of help readjusting and putting their experiences in perspective. Keep up the good work advocating for the military.

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