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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Combat Fallout: Acute Stress Reaction and PTSD

We hear a lot about post-traumatic stress disorder around here; but, have you heard much about something called acute stress reaction? The Leaf-Chronicle out of Clarksville, TN had a description of this milder form of combat stress in an article this weekend. Click on 'Article Link' below tags for more...

From the Leaf-Chronicle:

Two syndromes that troops often face in combat are Acute Stress Reaction and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While both involve the exposed person to witness or be involved with a traumatic event such as seeing a fellow soldier killed, ASR is a lesser form of PTSD and is diagnosed more quickly. Both can cause nightmares and flashbacks and anxiety, but with ASR — if recognized and treated soon — the soldier can usually return to duty within a few days. PTSD is when the symptoms last more than 30 days.

Blanchfield Army Community Hospital's Lt. Col. Michael Place, deputy commander of clinical services, said he's seen both syndromes while in Iraq and at BACH and usually all it takes is a little rest and relaxation to bring the soldiers back.

But what the Army has found is that taking a soldier out of his environment too soon after an event can actually be more harmful. This is because the affected soldier feels more comfortable being with those who have experienced the same thing. Soldiers also sometimes will not disclose they need help emotionally or mentally because of a perceived stigma attached that they're "crazy."

EC Hurley, owner and executive director of the Marriage and Family Institute on McClardy Road, said since the war in Iraq began, he's seen an increase of clients who are having trouble adjusting back to civilian life. He says the Army is doing a good job of evaluating its soldiers, but realizes the caseload has to be challenging.

He's expecting another surge in clients when the division returns this year. "I have soldiers tell me of their friends who have PTSD symptoms but they dodge the issues because they see identifying mental health problems, including combat related PTSD, as a sign of weakness — therefore they pretend not to have problems," Hurley said in an e-mail. "Of course, the soldier who denies having PTSD symptoms may be a danger to his fellow soldier in future combat actions if help is not received."

For those of you interested in following the progress of the 101st Airborne, the paper's military reporter has her own blog called the 101st Notebook that you might want to check out.

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