Other Invisible Wounds
SUBSTANCE ABUSE SERVICES
Many people trying to combat concerns like PTS, depression and anxiety cope by using drugs and alcohol to avoid distressing memories, reduce feelings of agitation, or to feel more comfortable in social settings. A recent study of VA Medical Centers shows that almost a quarter of Veterans who have a diagnosis of PTSD also have a co-occurring diagnosis of Substance Use Disorder (SUD).
As with all clinical syndromes, a thorough assessment is needed to evaluate the seriousness of the substance use and how substance use is related to other mental health problems. All clinical staff at Home Base are trained to identify co-occurring substance use and several specialize in the assessment and treatment of substance use.
When a Service Member or Veteran is diagnosed, he/she has two fights on their hands–both substance abuse and emotional difficulties such as PTSD or depression. The best evidence-based approach is an integrated model of treatment. This is imperative because of the complexity of one problem playing off the other. The integrated model of one treatment approach that we use here at Home Base will help our patients win this two-against-one battle, which is also called a co-occurring disorder.
MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA (MST)
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) uses the term “military sexual trauma” (MST) to refer to experiences of sexual assault or repeated, threatening sexual harassment experienced while on federal active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training.
MST is underreported in the Military; however data from those that go to the VA to seek treatment reveal that about 1 in 4 women and 1 in 100 men have experienced MST. MST is an experience, not a diagnosis or mental health condition. Common reactions that Service Members and Veterans have in response to MST include strong emotions (depression, anger, and irritability), numbness, trouble sleeping, difficulties with attention and memory, problems with alcohol or drugs, difficulties with relationships and physical health problems. VA medical record data indicates that PTSD, depression and other mood disorders, and substance abuse are all commonly associated with MTS.
Worldwide, about 60 million people die every year. Bereavement can shake the foundation of the lives of those left behind. Most people find a way to come to terms with loss; however, for some, grief is complicated and healing stalls. Complicated Grief is an intense and long-lasting form of grief that preoccupies people’s minds and overwhelms their lives. Grief dominates their existence without much respite or hope for relief.
Home Base clinicians offer Complicated Grief Therapy as part of the program’s services for Service Members, Veterans and Family members. Complicated Grief Therapy remains the best evidence-supported treatment for prolonged or complicated grief, and given the frequency of exposure to loss in these Military populations, Home Base believes this is an important service for the program.
Feeling sad or unhappy through life’s ups and downs is a normal reaction. Often people use the word depression to describe day to day sadness, however Clinical Depression is different. Clinical Depression is associated with persistent despair and feeling hopeless, lifeless, or losing interest in enjoyable activities. People with Clinical Depression do not all experience the same symptoms, and the severity and duration of symptoms may vary.
Depression frequently accompanies generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, complicated grief, and traumatic brain injury. Home Base clinicians offer Service Members, Veterans and Families evidence-based psychotherapy treatments for depression, and often treat the disorder alongside co-occurring disorders in individual or couple’s therapy. The goal of treatment is to regain the life once lived before depression.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by long-lasting excessive worry and anxiety about life issues and day to day. People experiencing Generalized Anxiety often find it difficult to relax and have an inability to stop worrying even in the absence of major life stress. Normal anxiety and worry is considered an anxiety disorder when it is severe enough to interfere with normal life functioning such as social interaction or occupational performance. People experiencing an Anxiety Disorder often feel restless or on edge, have difficulty concentrating, are irritable, and experience sleep disturbances. Many of the Service Members, Veterans and Families we treat struggle with Anxiety.
Effective treatments of Anxiety disorders are available at Home Base. Clinicians utilize evidence-based treatments such as cognitive behavior therapy to treat Anxiety disorders alongside other co-occurring disorders. Treating anxiety disorders is an important step in healing the Invisible Wounds of War.