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Suicide Risk Remains Much Higher for Military, Veterans Than Civilian U.S. Population

Suicide rates in the general U.S. population rose to their highest level in 30 years in 2014, but among both active-duty servicemembers and veterans, the rates were higher still.

Current Issue

Primary Care-Based Treatment Improved PTSD, Depression Without Stigma

By Brenda L. Mooney SANTA MONICA, CA – Can enhanced primary care treatment help alleviate the stigma some military servicemembers fear when told to seek mental healthcare? A new study suggests it can. Military members... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Bureaucracy, Not Patient Factors, Causes Burn Out for VA Psychiatrists

SAN ANTONIO — VA psychiatrists help large numbers of veterans work through extraordinarily traumatic experiences day in and day out, so high rates of burnout aren’t really surprising.

Current Issue

Legislators Focus on Concerns About Suicide ‘Epidemic’ Among Women Veterans

Suicide Rate Six Times Higher Than Civilian PeersBy Annette M. BoyleDENVER — Suicide among women veterans is six times higher than among their civilian peers, according to a recently published study, and Congress wants to... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Studies rTMS As Alternative Treatment for Depressed Veterans

How Effective Will Therapy Be for Complex Mental Health Profiles?By Annette M. BoylePALO ALTO, CA — At one point during the 20th century, the idea of using “shock treatment” on patients who failed to respond... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

Report Finds MHS Mental Healthcare Varies From Excellent to Inadequate

By Brenda L. MooneySANTA MONICA, CA — The MHS does an excellent job following up with patients after being discharged from mental healthcare treatment but falls short in some other areas, according to a new... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Veterans with Schizophrenia, Other Serious Mental Illness Less Likely to Have Surgery

For veterans with serious mental illness, high rates of multiple comorbidities and poor care would seem to create situations that increase the need for surgery, but a recent study indicates that these veterans are significantly less likely to have surgery than their peers without serious mental illness.

Clinical Topics Home

Making the Diagnosis: PTSD With Psychosis, Schizophrenia or Both?

The psychotic symptoms associated with schizophrenia appear in a significant number of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, raising the following question: Do these patients have a subtype of PTSD, comorbid schizophrenia or prodromal schizophrenia?

Army

High Percentage of Soldiers with Mental Illness Undiagnosed, Not Being Treated

In the wake of record-high suicide rates, the Army instituted a number of programs to identify and treat mental illness among soldiers.

December 2015

‘Big Data’ Helps Predict Which Soldiers Most Likely to Commit Violent Crimes

Technology Could Help DoD Better Address Workplace ViolenceBy Annette M. BoyleCAMBRIDGE, MA — As the DoD struggles with implementing a uniform workplace violence program that includes prevention and response protocols, a key tool has been... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

Military Children Often Bear Brunt of Parents’ Service

Teens More Likely to Exhibit Violence, Use DrugsBy Brenda L. MooneyLOS ANGELES — With so much focus on the mental and physical health of servicemembers, especially those who have been deployed and injured, another group... View Article

FDA News

FDA Approves Option for Schizophrenia, Bipolar Treatment

JERSEY CITY, NJ – A new option for treating schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in adults has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.The drug Vraylar, cariprazine in capsule form, is manufactured by Forest Laboratories... View Article

Agencies Home

Therapy for Insomnia Reduces Suicide Ideation in Veterans

RAND Study: DoD Isn’t Doing Enough to Improve Sleep Health By Brenda L. Mooney WASHINGTON – Difficulty sleeping appears to be a significant contributor to suicide ideation in veterans, even more so than severe depression,... View Article

April 2015

Telemedicine Expands to Provide Care for Rural Veterans With PTSD

SEATTLE - For rural veterans, the distance to a VAMC often creates a major barrier to care, particularly for treatments that require multiple trips.

Army

New Analytics May Help Army Predict Which Soldiers Are at Risk for Suicide

Rate Spikes after  Psychiatric  Hospitalization New Analytic Methods May Be Able to Better Predict Who’s at Risk By Brenda L. Mooney BOSTON – Soldiers are at astronomical risk of suicide within the first year following... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

Military Brings Treatment Closer to Troops to Combat Growing Depression Issues

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – Recent military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan have put the spotlight not only on PTSD and TBI, but also on depression, which often co-exists with both conditions. “The previously rising... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

Complexity, Lack of Approved Therapies Challenges PTSD, TBI Treatment

WASHINGTON - When the American Psychiatric Association first added post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1980, it was quite controversial.

Department of Defense (DoD)

Better Recruit Screening Probably Won’t Solve Military Suicide Crisis

SALT LAKE CITY - The roots of the rising suicide rates in servicemembers and veterans reach back into childhood home environments and pre-military experiences, according to a quartet of recent reports.

Department of Defense (DoD)

Who Has PTSD Now? New Definition Creates Challenges for Clinicians

By Brenda L. Mooney SILVER SPRING, MD – A new study raises critical questions about the change in the definition of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual... View Article

Current Issue

Institute of Medicine: DOD, VA Fail at Tracking Outcomes of PTSD Treatments

By Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON – One of the signature injuries of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), affected 13.5% of soldiers and caused 502,000 veterans to seek treatment in 2012.... View Article

Agencies Home

Institute of Medicine: DOD, VA Fail at Tracking Outcomes of PTSD Treatments

By Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON – One of the signature injuries of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), affected 13.5% of soldiers and caused 502,000 veterans to seek treatment in 2012.... View Article

Agencies Home

VA Treats Schizophrenia More Consistently Than Other Healthcare Systems

By Annette M. Boyle TEMPLE, TX – While taking antipsychotic medication often benefits patients, evidence increasingly challenges the assumption that more is better, even as the rate of prescriptions for multiple antipsychotics continues to rise... View Article

2014 Issues

Major Depressive Disorder Has Affected Nearly Half of Female OIF/OEF Veterans

DURHAM, NC - In the general population and among veterans, women suffer from depression at a substantially higher rate than men, and the mood disorder often occurs concurrently with other mental health conditions.

April 2014

Pre-Enlistment Mental Disorders Big Contributors to Army Suicide Risks

CAMBRIDGE, MA — About half of all soldiers reporting that they had tried to kill themselves said that their initial suicide attempt occurred before enlistment, according to a new study.

2014 Issues

Unspecified Anxiety Disorder Diagnosis Significantly Decreases Treatment for Veterans

HOUSTON — About 40% of veterans with anxiety disorders receive a “placeholder” diagnosis that often remains with them indefinitely — and dramatically reduces the likelihood they ever will receive appropriate care, according to a new study.

2014 Issues

Effective Treatments Touted for Insomnia That Affects Half of All Returning Troops

PITTSBURGH, PA — Insomnia and other sleep disorders, which affect one out of every two servicemembers or veterans who have been involved in recent military operations, complicate co-morbid conditions and can be difficult to manage.

2013 Issues

Atlanta VAMC Resolving Issues that Led to Deaths of Mental Health Patients

By Annette M. Boyle ATLANTA — The management breakdowns blamed by the VA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the deaths of three mental health patients at the Atlanta VAMC are being resolved, agency... View Article

2013 Issues

Increasing Military Suicide Rates Unrelated to Deployment, Combat

By Brenda L. Mooney Cynthia A. Leardman, MPH SAN DIEGO, CA – Despite common misconceptions, increasing suicides by military servicemembers do not appear to be related to combat experience or deployment – or even multiple... View Article

Cardiovascular Disease

Quick Stress Reduction Technique Improves Sleep for Heart Patients

BETHESDA, MD — An easy 10-minute stress reduction technique can substantially improve sleep quality, according to researchers from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The 10-minute Tension Tamer was tested on 334 patients in a... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

Front-Line Clinicians Get Practical Advice To Help Combat Military Suicides

By Brenda L. Mooney ROCHESTER, MN — With sweeping new initiatives from the White House and elsewhere in response to the burgeoning military suicide rate, little guidance has been offered to the clinicians in the... View Article

Army

Potential Overuse of Antipsychotic Drugs for PTSD Patients is Under Review

By Annette M. Boyle FORT DETRICK, MD — In the wake of a memo from Assistant Secretary of Defense Jonathan Woodson, MD, expressing concern about potential over-prescription of antipsychotic drugs for treatment of post-traumatic stress... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

What Is the Role of Immune Dysfunction in Schizophrenia? VA Researchers Seek to Find Out

By Annette M. Boyle SAN ANTONIO — Can cytokines, the signaling proteins secreted by immune system cells, offer a way to prevent development of schizophrenia in susceptible individuals or keep psychosis from occurring in veterans... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Social Skills Training for Veterans with Schizophrenia Changes Lives for Better

By Annette M. Boyle BALTIMORE– For many veterans with schizophrenia, deficits in social skills commonly associated with the disorder can make maintaining relationships and achieving personal goals extremely challenging. The VA’s Social Skills Training (SST)... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

Convenient Primary Care Reduces CV Risk Factors in Mentally Ill

Cardiovascular disease risk factors often are comorbid with serious mental illnesses (SMI) such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder, yet these patients often don’t receive necessary care for those chronic conditions. In fact, veterans... View Article

2012 Compendium of Federal Medicine

To Plan for Future Care VA Must Assume TBI-Dementia Link

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON–The news that patients with TBI could have a higher risk of dementia later in life has reverberated far outside the veteran patient community where the research was conducted. With TBI accounting... View Article

2012 Compendium of Federal Medicine

With Increase in Bipolar Patients the VA Tackles Medication Side Effect Issues

By Steve Lewis BOSTON–Headlines may focus on mental-health issues such as schizophrenia, often related to veteran homelessness or even violent behavior, but bipolar disorder actually is increasing far faster at the VA and can be... View Article

Mental Health

Neurotransmitter Discovery Could Lead To Treatments for Mental Disorders

For years, researchers have been working to discover which cellular processes allow humans to learn and store memories, and how these processes are compromised by diseases such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s. Researchers at NIH say... View Article

August 2011

Improved Schizophrenia Control May Be Essential in Reducing VA Suicide Rate

Suicide among veterans has grabbed its fair share of headlines in recent weeks. Much of the focus has been on VA’s difficulty in providing timely care, especially to veterans returning from deployment with PTSD, TBI... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

Psychiatric Care Provided in Theater Seeks to Contain Mental Health Issues

WASHINGTON — Mental health providers interviewed every single member of a 900-plus member Marine battalion that had sustained heavy losses in Afghanistan, as part of their reintegration upon return from deployment. While the effort to... View Article

Addiction

Congress Asks: In Wake of Court Ruling, Should VA Do More to Push Troubled Veterans Into Treatment?

WASHINGTON — Does VA need to employ more aggressive tactics when it comes to getting veterans struggling with PTSD, depression and s ubstance abuse into treatment?  Should some of those tactics involve using disability benefits... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

Study: High Combat Activity Producing Epidemic of Acute Stress in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON — Acute stress is rampant among troops in Afghanistan who are experiencing “a dramatic increase” in the levels of combat activity, according to a recent study. The study found that stress and combat activity... View Article

June 2011

Army Brings Behavioral Health Programs Into Schools to Better Reach Children Struggling With Parental Deployment

Washington – More than 700,000 children have had one or more parent deployed to the Iraq or Afghanistan theaters of operation, and recent studies indicate that those children suffer significant rates of behavioral and stress... View Article

2011 Issues

Army Battles Sexual Assault Within Troops, Improves Follow-Up Care of Victims

WASHINGTON—Not that long ago, a woman who had been sexually assaulted might have gone to an Army Military Treatment Facility (MTF), had a forensic examination and then would go home without anyone at the MTF... View Article

2011 Compendium of Federal Medicine

Psychiatric Issues in HCV-Infected Veterans Must Be Managed With Underlying Disease

Managing the physical disease alone is not enough with veterans infected with hepatitis C and who also have high rates of mental health conditions. Addressing the psychiatric issues is especially critical when interferon-based therapies—where depression... View Article

2011 Compendium of Federal Medicine

Schizophrenia Increases Complexity of Aiding Veterans Without Homes

While no one is certain how many homeless veterans suffer from schizophrenia, experts agree that their numbers are significant—and because of the nature of their illness and living conditions, they often present with a variety... View Article

2011 Issues

Researchers Explore Enzyme That Can Both Increase, Decrease Memory

BETHESDA, MD—A new study into the biochemical mechanisms that control memory has added to the hope that someday scientists will be able to strengthen a person’s ability to remember through chemical intervention. NIH-funded researchers at... View Article

2011 Issues

Inexpensive Toolkit Helps Prevent Alzheimer’s-Related Home Safety Problems, Mishaps

WASHINGTON, DC—A simple $76 toolkit with items typically found at any neighborhood hardware store has shown promise in increasing home safety for Alzheimer’s disease patients and reducing the strain on overburdened caregivers. It could be... View Article

2011 Issues

Even Veterans With mTBI More at Risk for Dementia

WASHINGTON, DC—Since an Institute of Medicine report in 2008, there has been significant consensus that penetrating and severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) increases the risk for dementia later in life. The evidence was not as... View Article

2011 Issues

TBI Symptoms, Severity Differ for Women Veterans But Cause Remains A Mystery

WASHINGTON, DC—As more data is emerging on the short and long-term effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI), researchers are discovering that the injury affects women differently than it does men. Most notably, there seems to... View Article

2011 Issues

Technology Makes For Efficient Application Of New mTBI Policy

WASHINGTON, DC—Last summer, DoD issued a policy designed to speed detection of mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI) on the battlefield. Now, using new technologies to make the process as efficient as possible, the policy is... View Article

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