PTSD Consultation Program

The National Center for PTSD has a Consultation Program that offers consultation, education, information, and other resources to those who treat Veterans with PTSD. Their consultation relies on evidence-based practices for PTSD. Providers treating individuals who have PTSD can access this website to connect with a wide range of resources. There are opportunities for free email and phone consultations with a response within one business day. To send an email, go to: PTSDconsult@va.gov. Call (866) 948-7880, or visit www.ptsd.va.gov/consult.

Free, in depth educational materials are available to help those who are living with PTSD. There are more than 40 online courses at www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/continuing_ed. In addition, there is a monthly lecture on the third Wednesday of each month hosted by the Consultation Program. For more information visit www.ptsd.va.gov/consult.   Visit the PTSD website at www.ptsd.va.gov to access free videos, educational handouts, manuals, PTSD-related publications, PTSD and trauma assessments and screening tools, mobile apps, and more.

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Staying Healthy

Flu season is here, and if you are a veteran considering getting a flu shot, now may be a good time to get it done. The VA is teaming up with Walgreens to offer free flu shots to veterans. You will need to present your Veteran’s Identification Card to receive the vaccine.

As a reminder of how the flu can affect you, here are some of the signs:

  • Possible fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Possible vomiting and diarrhea
  • While having the flu is bad enough, it can also lead to complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, or sinus infection. If you are older (over 65 years, or have a chronic medical condition such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), you may be at greater risk of developing complications. Signs that your flu is getting worse rather than better include:
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • This year, do your best to stay health; get your flu shot and take care of yourself…after all, you’re worth it!

Finding Focus

When you have PTSD and you’re fighting depression, it can be difficult to focus on the things you used to do in the past. Along with isolating yourself, you may stop engaging in the activities that you used to find fun. That’s a shame because that depression can lead to inertia. It becomes all too easy to just sit down and give up.

That’s when you have to force yourself to get out and get involved in something that interests you now. Sometimes it is necessary to do this in order to get back into the rhythm of living again. You may find you have to pretend you’re interested for a while before you will actually be interested in something.

You may even find you aren’t interested in the same things you were in the past, but that’s okay. We all grow at our own rate and other things may bring you joy now. Look for those other things. Life is too short to go through without happiness.

PTSD can rob your life of joy. Don’t stop trying to reclaim your life. Find those things that captivate you and bring you happiness. After all, that’s what makes life worth living.

Controlling Anger

There is little doubt that anger can be a problem! Most of us can control our anger most of the time, but when anger gets out of control, our problems just seem to get worse. You may not have known that anger has an impact on your physical health. Anger affects:

  • Blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Chronic pain
  • Heart disease
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Dental problems (from clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth)
  • High cholesterol
  • Weak immune system
  • Stomach and digestive system problems
  • Early death

There are other problems that occur with excessive anger too, such as problems with your relationships or at work. Anger often leads to:

  • Frequent arguments
  • Strained relationships and divorce
  • Injury to self or others
  • Domestic violence
  • Child and pet abuse
  • Work-related problems
  • Road rage and traffic tickets
  • Jail or prison time

What can you do to control your anger? Learn to be assertive rather than aggressive. Assertive people can work through their anger without becoming aggressive. Assertiveness means recognizing that you have the right to feel what you feel, but the other person has that same right.

 

PTSD and Depression

PTSD and depression often go hand in hand. That’s unfortunate, because dealing with either one is difficult enough, but when the two join forces, it can be double trouble. Fortunately, there are treatments for both and it is important that you stay on your medication regiment until things are under control again.

All of us seem to have a tendency to stop taking medications once we start feeling better as evidenced by the resistance that is often prevalent in antibiotic use. But both depression and PTSD have components of chemical imbalance involved, and when you stop too early, you may prevent those medications from doing what they are intended to do. It is very important that you follow your prescribed routine and follow through on taking them once you start feeling better.

Unfortunately, there are those people who feel that taking medication for depression or PTSD is indicative of admitting to having mental illness, or that it is a weakness. It is not! Again, both are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, and if medication can rebalance those chemicals, then it is only wise to take it. PTSD and depression are caused by a physical problem and they are cured with a physical cure, so please don’t hesitate to “take the cure.” Suffering with PTSD and/or depression robs your life of the joy you deserve, but you can do something about it.

GRATITUDE ON VETERANS DAY

It is with a spirit of gratitude and humility that I would like to acknowledge all those veterans who have contributed to my freedom and all those service men and women who currently stand in harm’s way. I do not say this lightly. I only have to look briefly into the news to see the oppression others live under to know that even with all the political unrest currently rippling through the United States this is still the best place to live. I know “thank you” seems paltry in comparison to the losses experienced, the pain and suffering that have been paid in the name of freedom, but I offer it in respect as I have nothing else to offer.

I am thankful that I have been so blessed as to be born in a country where I can make choices as a woman that others are denied. I have had opportunities that people in other countries will never know, and all of it has been supported by the men and women in the armed services. Thank you.

Tonight, I will sleep peacefully without the sound of gunfire outside my door. Thank you. If disaster befalls my community, I know there are service men and women who will deploy to provide rescue services. Thank you. There are so many ways that my freedom is assured that I am not even aware of, it is overwhelming. Thank you for all of that. This Veterans Day, and every day, thank you.

Winter Darkness

We’ve turned the clocks back to Daylight Savings Time, and I hate it! I used to love winter’s crisp, sparkling snow and glittering magic, but now I feel like I should be a bear and hunker down into a den for the next 4 or 5 months. It’s just too dark. My house seems dark and my office at work seems dark. I think a lot of it is just a reflection of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I want light and warm sunshine in my life. These gray, rainy days knowing that snow is right around the corner are hard to take.

I think having PTSD makes every other condition you have worse. Now, not only am I coping with the PTSD, I am aware of how it impacts my SAD too, and how the SAD affects my PTSD. I feel out of step with myself, and it’s a daily effort to keep from sinking into despair.

When days like this occur, I have to watch that I don’t wallow in self-pity and focus instead on moving ahead. Winter will end; I have to remember that. Sunny days will come again, and so will happier times. Until then, I have to make an effort to find the sunshine in the little things. As the old adage goes, “The best way out is through.”