Clinical Topics


Mental Health

Some Veterans Want Family Involved With Mental Health Treatment

LOS ANGELES—One of the most difficult issues in caring for adults with severe mental illness, including at the VA, is balancing privacy regulations with family members’ desire to be in the know. A study published... View Article

Mental Health

Bergendahl Uses Video Gaming to Help Fellow Veterans Recover

Mat Bergendahl, MS, LPC, was with the Air Force Security Forces when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003. Like many servicemembers, he managed to bring along some personal effects. And, like many people his... View Article

Mental Health

VA Awakens to Prevalence of Sleep Apnea in Veterans with Severe Mental Illness

PITTSBURGH—Serious mental illness increases the likelihood of sleep apnea by 26%, according to researchers at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. Their study, recently published in Psychosomatics, also found that nearly 9% of all veterans had... View Article

Mental Health

Three VAMC Campus Suicides in a Week Heighten Concerns About Prevention

WASHINGTON—Concern over the rate of veteran suicides reached a fever pitch last month after three veterans took their lives at VA facilities over a span of five days. Two of the deaths occurred in Georgia—one... View Article

Mental Health

Most Veterans Receiving VA Mental Healthcare Support Some Gun Restrictions

A survey of veterans receiving mental healthcare through VA found that the vast majority would favor at least one option to restrict firearm access with the goal of reducing dangers of self-harm.

Mental Health

After 40 Years, VA Study Finds Antipsychotics No Help for Delirium

For more than 40 years, haloperidol and ziprasidone have been given to critically ill patients who develop delirium in hospital intensive care units.

Mental Health

Program Helps Reduce Domestic Violence Involving Returning Servicemembers

While intimate partner violence in the military population has been found to occur at about the same rate as the civilian population, servicemembers and veterans face unique challenges: a lack of separation between home and work life, long separations from family and repeated exposure to combat and other traumatic situations.

Mental Health

Intensive Short-Term Therapy More Effective for PTSD in Veterans

Short-term intensive outpatient treatment is more effective for post-traumatic stress disorder in military veterans than longer-term therapy, a new study suggested.

Mental Health

Too Little Sleep? Army Research Suggests Correct Caffeine Dosage

The Army's Performance Triad promotes quality sleep, physical activity and good nutrition, but when sleep suffers, a new tool developed by the Army can help.

Mental Health

Psychologist works to make mental health units safe for suicidal veterans

Most people looking at a hospital room will see an environment specifically designed to keep human beings alive through even the most traumatic circumstances.

Mental Health

VA Mental Health Experts Urge Intensive Pre-Enlistment Schizophrenia Screening

The most common age for diagnosis of schizophrenia is late teens to early 30s.

Mental Health

Report: More Than 80% of VAMCs Provide High-Quality Mental Healthcare

A new report gave the VA high marks for the quality of mental health care provided to veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

Mental Health

VA Leads the Way in Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction

According to a report from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 42,000 Americans died from an opioid overdose in 2016—five times higher than only seven years prior—and current CDC data shows little evidence that those numbers are any lower for 2017.

Mental Health

Among Veterans, Women as Likely as Men to Have Substance Abuse

Childhood adversity increases risk for alcohol and drug disorders for veterans, and, unlike in the civilian population, veteran women are as likely as men to have those types of problems.

Mental Health

Despite Overall Longevity Trends, Mortality Increases for Schizophrenia Patients

Since the 1970s, mortality rates have declined, extending average lifespan by almost a decade.

Mental Health

Nightmare Disorder Increases Mental Health Risks in Servicemembers

Lack of sleep has long been a feature of military service.

Mental Health

Mental Health Diagnoses Increase Coronary Artery Disease Risks in Women Veterans

BOSTON — Depression and anxiety can be debilitating on their own. For women veterans, the conditions raise an additional concern: They significantly increase the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD)—the leading cause of death in the United States.

Mental Health

For Memory Issues, It’s Not So Much the Concussion as the Blast

BOSTON—Many more servicemembers might have been injured by blasts in Iraq and Afghanistan than previously reported.

Mental Health

Is Stroke Hospitalization Higher for Mentally Ill Veterans?

A recent study raises questions about whether stroke survivors with severe mental illness are at risk for increased nonpsychiatric hospitalization at the VHA compared to stroke survivors without prior psychiatric diagnoses.

Mental Health

VA Is Struggling to Hire Enough Mental Health Clinicians by Year’s End

VA is falling short on its goals to hire more mental health professionals by the end of this year, VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD, told legislators at a recent Senate hearing on suicide prevention.

Mental Health

Social Support Critical for Military Mental Health

The Marine Resiliency Study-II examined changes in symptomatology across a deployment cycle to Afghanistan. Results were published recently in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.1

Mental Health

Suicide Attempts in Army Units Appear to Be ‘Contagious’

Study Finds Links Between Higher Individual, Unit Rates BETHESDA, MD—Are soldiers in specific Army units more likely to attempt suicide? A new study looks at that issue and explores what characteristics of the units might... View Article

Mental Health

Navy Psychologist Uses Nontraditional Methods to Improve Mental Healthcare

It was 7 a.m. on a Wednesday in January—a time when most clinical psychologists would be making their way to the hospital or clinic. But instead of heading to her office at the Naval Hospital Jacksonville Deployment Health Center, Tracy Hejmanowski, PhD, was driving an hour south of the city to begin a new patient on a course of equine-assisted therapy.

Mental Health

Veterans’ Asthma, Mental Health Show Link

SAN BERNARDINO, CA — Mental illness is associated with both current and lifetime asthma among U.S. veterans, according to a new study.The study, published recently in the Journal of Asthma, involved 20,581 veterans. A study... View Article

Mental Health

Long-Term Opioid Use Increases Depression Risk

LOUIS — While opioids can cause short-term improvement in mood as patients experience pain relief, long-term use of the drugs increases risk of new-onset depression, according to a new study.The research, published recently in the... View Article

Mental Health

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

Mental Health

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.

Mental Health

Preoperative Opioid Use Predicts Post-Surgical Chronic Pain

SEATTLE – The most important predictor of chronic postoperative pain after elective knee arthroscopy is preoperative opioid use, according to a single-center retrospective study. Background information in the study, published recently in the journal Anesthesia... View Article

Mental Health

DoD: Wounded Warrior Programs Still Needed Despite Combat Wind Down

WASHINGTON - While military wounded warrior programs are caring for fewer combat-wounded troops than at the height of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan

Mental Health

Complementary/Alternative Medicine Increasingly Used for PTSD Treatment

Meditation Helps Relieve Symptoms By Annette M. Boyle SYRACUSE, NY — Both active-duty forces and veterans have widely adopted complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and the applications for these interventions and practices have continued to... View Article

Mental Health

Most Outside Mental Health Providers Unqualified to Care for Veterans

New Law Gives Broader Access to Care Beyond VA By Brenda L. Mooney  WASHINGTON – Passed with broad bipartisan congressional source support, the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (VACAA) was promoted as... View Article

Mental Health

December 2014 Direct

DECEMBER ISSUE Forward this newsletter to a colleague U.S. MEDICINE NEWS UPDATE VA Removes Phoenix Healthcare Director in Wake of Wait-Times Scandal WASHINGTON – The VA announced that it has formally removed Sharon Helman, the... View Article

Mental Health

Pituitary Dysfunction Related to Blast TBI

CHICAGO – Pituitary dysfunction after blast injury may be an important, under-recognized, and potentially treatable source of symptoms in servicemembers who survive traumatic brain injury (TBI) from blast exposure, according to a new study. The... View Article

Mental Health

Clay Hunt Suicide Bill Blocked in Senate, Falls to Pass This Session

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON-Advocacy groups were upset last month that a bill requiring VA and DoD to conduct annual evaluations of their mental healthcare and suicide prevention programs was not passed before Congress finished its... View Article

Mental Health

Bill Seeks to Give VA Providers Leeway in States Allowing Medical Marijuana

WASHINGTON - Should VA healthcare providers have more leeway in providing recommendations and options to veterans regarding participation in a state marijuana programs, even though possession of the drug remains a federal offense?

Mental Health

Study Offers New Statistics on How Many OEF/OIF Veterans Have PTSD

Condition Not Just Related to Deployment By Brenda L. Mooney WASHINGTON – While many studies have reported the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) veterans, most... View Article

Mental Health

October 2014 Direct

OCTOBER ISSUE Forward this newsletter to a colleague U.S. MEDICINE NEWS UPDATE VA Proposes Physician Pay Increases, Begins Major Recruiting Campaign WASHINGTON – The maximum rates of annual pay for incoming VHA physicians and dentists... View Article

Mental Health

Federal Healthcare Timeline

  1964 S. Medicine publishes its first issue. The new Naval Station Hospital Saigon receives the first American combat casualties directly from the Vietnam War. 1965 A U.S. Marine Corps Hawk air defense missile battalion... View Article

Mental Health

U.S. Medicine Documents Advances in Federal Medicine for a Half-Century

WASHINGTON - A half-century ago this month, the first issue of U.S. Medicine was published and sent to 23,000 physicians practicing within 24 government agencies.

Mental Health

Pain Is a Growing Issue for Troops and Veterans; Safer Remedies Sought

WASHINGTON - Trauma-related pain – both acute and chronic -- has always been a universal problem among war-injured troops.

Mental Health

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

Mental Health

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.

Mental Health

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

Mental Health

New White House Initiatives Seek to Reduce Military Suicide Rates, Improve Care

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – A revision in the VA drug formulary and an expansion of suicide prevention training were among 19 new executive actions announced recently by President Barack Obama to improve mental healthcare... View Article

Mental Health

June 2014 Focus

In this Issue: Focus on PTSD/TBI Brain Injury from Blasts Possible Without TBI Symptoms VA/Court Partnerships Seek to Keep Troubled Veterans Out of Jail Pharmacy Update TRICARE Limits on Use of Community Pharmacies Creates Firestorm... View Article

Mental Health

September 2014 Direct

SEPTEMBER ISSUE Forward this newsletter to a colleague U.S. MEDICINE NEWS UPDATE No Conclusive Evidence that Phoenix VA Care Delays Were Fatal WASHINGTON – A VA inspector’s general report has found that access barriers adversely... View Article

Mental Health

Researchers Target Sleep to Improve Outcomes in Servicemembers with Mild TBI

ARLINGTON, VA - Up to 93% of servicemembers who sustain mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs) or concussions experience insomnia and more than a third develop obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep disturbances also can exacerbate other symptoms such as pain and irritability as well as impair cognition and social functioning.

Mental Health

Sleep Problems Complicate PTSD Recovery

BETHESDA, MD – Recovery from post-traumatic stress and mood disorders can be complicated by sleep problems, which are common among active-duty servicemembers, according to a new study. R. Gregory Lande, DO, the author of the... View Article

Mental Health

Sleep Quality Affects Physical Activity in PTSD

SAN FRANCISCO – The worse the sleep quality, the lower the physical activity levels in veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). That’s according to a study from the San Francisco VAMC and the University of... View Article

Mental Health

PTSD Still Plagues More than 1 in 10 Vietnam Veterans 40 Years Later

WASHINGTON - Thousands of Vietnam-era veterans continue to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 41 years after the war ended, a recent congressionally mandated study shows.

Subscribe to U.S. Medicine Print Magazine

U.S. Medicine is mailed free each month to physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and administrators working for Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense and U.S. Public Health Service.

Subscribe Now

Receive Our Email Newsletter

Stay informed about federal medical news, clinical updates and reports on government topics for the federal healthcare professional.

Sign Up