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Showing posts from May, 2010

PTSD: The State of Treatment

This is the second part of a series on Post Traumatic Brain Syndrome.  Let me recap last week and expand on what we know about the neurobiological mechanisms (how the brain works) of PTSD, and then discuss treatment strategies.

When something stressful happens, the brain prepares the body for action.  The hypothalamus, pituitary gland, amygdala, locus ceruleus and opioid system all release hormones to speed up respiration, raise blood pressure, reduce sensitivity to pain, all useful conditions for the proverbial fight or flight.

Under normal stressors, as soon as these hormones are released, feedback systems go into operation.  The hypothalamus tells everybody else that their job is done and they can back off.

These hormones, especially cortisol, damage brain structures, notably the hippocampus, whose job is to regulate emotion and to perform the "that was then, this is now" function.  I named it that, and am very proud of it.  My own brain has almost no "th…

PTSD and the DSM: Science and Politics -- Again

Several weeks of what I call "swiss cheese brain" interrupted my series on PTSD.  Now with a couple posts in reserve and a two week cushion, I am trying again.  To get us back on the same page, here is a (tweaked) reprint of March 28, a history of the issue in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual and current context, to be followed by PTSD: The State of Treatment, and then PTSD: Hope for Prevention.

With the ongoing war in Iraq, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder -- PTSD is much in the news nowadays.  We can expect that to continue.

Nancy Andreasen, author of The Broken Brain, traces the social history of this mental illness in a 2004 American Journal of Psychiatryarticle.  The features of what we call PTSD have long been noted in the annuls of warfare.  More recently, in World War I it was called shell shock, and those who had it were shot for cowardice in the face of the enemy.  In World War II it was recognized as a mental illness and called battle fatigue.  Afflicted s…

NAMI Walks for the Mind of America

Saturday, May 8 -- It was COLD!!! and windy.  No upright displays this year.  But there were the usual belly dancers, musicians, dogs, fabulous bagels, cream cheese, fruit, granola bars, cookies...

And volunteers -- serving food, registering walkers, taking photos, cheering us on.  The clown making toy balloons!

And the walkers.  And the strollers.  And the dogs.
Speaking of which: Here she is, in a rare moment walking the designated path.  Mazie had never been to City Park before.  So many new smells!  So many new trees!  So much marking to do!
After we walked a mile, the short loop, Mazie's back leg began to falter -- the one that has done twice the work of the other two for the last thirteen years.  What with all the zig-zagging between trees, it's likely she did do 5K, and it was just her people who gave out.
Meanwhile, she cooperated magnificently, wearing her own shirt.  As soon as she returned to the start, she got into her therapy dog mode, sitting stock still while lit…