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For Some, Home Can Be Hell Too

Discussion in 'News, Politics & Debates' started by becvan, Jul 24, 2007.

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  1. becvan

    becvan Queen of the Blunt! Premium Member

    For some, home can be hell, too

    What is post-traumatic stress disorder?

    Some facts on post-traumatic stress disorder:

    Symptoms: Irritability, anger, guilt, grief or sadness, emotional numbing, helplessness, loss of pleasure derived from familiar activities, difficulty feeling happy, difficulty experiencing loving feelings, fatigue, insomnia, vulnerability to illness.

    Definition: It's a complicated disorder characterized by the intrusive re-experiencing of a traumatic event, such as rape, warfare or threat of physical harm. It can take the form of nightmares, flashbacks and vivid memories, all of which can lead to problems sleeping, expressing emotion and avoidance of situations that remind sufferers of the event.

    Number of cases: Of 1,300 Canadian soldiers who have returned from Afghanistan since 2005 and undergone screening, 28 per cent had symptoms suggestive of mental health problems. Just over 6 per cent of those were possibly suffering from PTSD. Five per cent showed symptoms of major depression.
    Canadian Press

    War's toll continues for returning soldiers who struggle to find help for post-traumatic stress
    Jul 23, 2007 04:30 AM
    Alison Auld

    About once a week, David would quietly leave his office, drive a half-hour and change out of uniform before sitting down with a doctor for a regular appointment.

    For months, the young soldier ventured far from his military base in Edmonton to seek help for a problem that had robbed him of his sense of humour and left him haunted by memories of comrades' bodies being loaded into helicopters in the deserts of Afghanistan.

    It was a hassle, but it was the only way he felt he could get the treatment he needed without facing repercussions from a military he and others say is failing soldiers traumatized by the rigours of war.

    "They've made it impossible," David, who insisted on using a pseudonym, said in an interview from his Edmonton home.

    "I had to drop my treatment because I couldn't get the time off from work and I was embarrassed to tell the people I work with. Once you start going to see someone to help you out, they treat you like you can't do your job no more.

    "You come home and you almost feel like the army's turning its back on you."

    Some soldiers returning home from Afghanistan are suffering "operational stress injuries" – a range of afflictions that includes alcoholism, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

    The number of Forces members coming home describing symptoms suggestive of mental health problems aren't alarming, says Dr. Mark Zamorski of the deployment health section of the Canadian Forces, but they do show how negative combat experiences are contributing to such problems.

    "The magnitude of the health impact is about what we'd expect given the nature of the deployment," Zamorski said in an interview from Ottawa where he conducts research on ways to mitigate adverse health consequences on members of the Forces.

    "Mental health problems are a major source of casualties these days," he added.

    The military says it has gone to great lengths to make sure pre-mission soldiers are as prepared as they can be to deal with stress injuries as they develop.

    Officials have also added several screening steps when soldiers return to help identify signs of stress disorders.

    All soldiers who have been away for more than 60 days have to complete a detailed questionnaire that can indicate if they might have an operational stress injury.

    And they are supposed to undergo an interview with a health professional.

    But only a fraction of redeployed troops have completed the questionnaire or undergone the interview, raising the likelihood that some are falling through the cracks.

    If they are found to be in need of help, Zamorski says they can take advantage of several resources on and off base.

    There is a new anonymous toll-free number staffed by health practitioners, specialized operational stress injury clinics, and trauma and stress support centres on bases across the country. And Ottawa has pledged to boost the number of mental health workers to more than 400 by 2009.

    When Cpl. Will Salikin returned to Canada from Afghanistan after his deployment last July he was in a drug-induced coma with massive head injuries, other health problems and sketchy memories of the moments before a bomb hit his convoy Jan. 15, 2006.

    The suicide blast killed Canadian diplomat Glyn Berry and seriously injured his section mates, leaving one a double amputee.

    Salikin awoke at the University of Alberta Hospital with a shattered radius and ulna, burns, compromised movement in his right side, no recollections of the incident, slight neurological issues and a bacteria common to Afghanistan.

    The 24-year-old spent more than a month in hospital recovering from physical wounds, but had other problems, including rages over inconsequential things and waking up exhausted at 4:30 a.m.

    Nobody told him about help available so he found a psychiatrist on base himself.

    "That's where the army dropped the ball. Nothing really was offered to me. I had to seek it out myself, but then they were fully helpful," he said. "Hopefully no one else has the same experience of having to walk through everything by themselves."
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