By: Chie Saito
Thanks to new research, Fort Hood soldiers can now improve understanding of how to improve post-traumatic stress disorder treatments.
The research now underway is driven by a multidisciplinary partnership called STRONG STAR led by the University of Texas Science Center in San Antonio.
“We know very little about what treatments work best for active duty military,” Dr. Alan Peterson, STRONG STAR Director, said. “There have been studies on civilians and a little bit on already discharged veterans, but we don’t know the best treatments to use in the military right now.”
A decade of war in Afghanistan and nearly nine years in Iraq has left an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 service members as possible victims of PTSD.
“People will think about a particular event, an image or have nightmares. People tend to avoid thinking about the event that occurred, avoid things that will trigger off symptoms,” Dr. Peterson said. “It’s almost like a constant state of alarm.”
Two current studies by STRONG STAR involve groups of Fort Hood soldiers.
“If we were cancer researchers we would be looking for the cure to cancer, that’s what we’re trying to do for PTSD,” Dr. Peterson said.
“We encounter individuals not realizing that they actually get better through these treatments. They’re not accustomed to hearing that PTSD is treatable. I think that’s surprising to them that they can feel better after they complete all ten sessions,” Research Director Elisa Borah said.
Researchers are not only looking at the effectiveness of group therapy sessions versus individual sessions, but they are also looking at the possibility of cutting down the length of treatment from eight weeks to two weeks.
“If you think about the Vietnam War, we think of individuals that have had lifelong chronic PTSD. That’s what it has tended to be in Vietnam,” Dr. Peterson said. “We’re trying to do early interventions. Our hope is to treat people for ten sessions, when they’re finished they’re done.”
The research is funded with money from the Department of Defense. STRONG STAR researchers are still looking for Fort Hood soldiers battling PTSD to help with research.
Those interested can call (254) 288-1638 for more information.