#AskDCoE: Experts Answer Mental Health Questions

Story by Jayne Davis, Defense Centers of Excellence Public Affairs 

Raise your hand if you’re searching for answers to questions about you or your loved one’s mental health. This month, mental health experts from Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury answer questions asked by service members, veterans, families and health care providers on DCoE social media. We’re devoting this time to encourage you to speak up about mental health concerns affecting you or your military family.

Are you feeling depressed or anxious?

Are you having trouble understanding behaviors of a loved one with post-traumatic stress disorder?

Caregiving puts tremendous stress on the caregiver; do you wonder how you can cope?

Do you have a comment to share that could inform or encourage others who may be reluctant to speak up?

We’re calling this month-long event a “Living Blog” because we’ll add questions and answers to it throughout the month. DCoE subject matter experts will work to provide answers within 24 hours of receiving your questions. We invite you to ask questions on any of these three platforms:

Facebook:

  • Post a question to our wall
  • Comment with your question on a related post

Twitter and include:

  • Our handle: @DCoEPage
  • Hashtag: #AskDCoE

DCoE Blog

  • Scroll down to the comment section below and ask your question

If you submit your question through Facebook or Twitter, we’ll notify you when the question and answer is posted here. We’ll post questions and answers all month, so please check back frequently.

Reaching out for help requires strength and fortitude. The stigma of seeking help for mental health concerns keeps many from getting answers, let alone asking questions. Don’t let this be you. Break down those barriers. Start here:

Q: Are most mental health issues that result from deployments treatable? – Ethan
A: The good news is that, yes, in most cases the behavioral health symptoms service members experience after deployments are treatable. And the best news is that treatment works. It’s normal to have a period of adjustment after returning home, but if symptoms linger and begin to notably impact daily functioning, it’s time to seek help. It’s important to understand some conditions won’t go away with time and require appropriate treatment. Evidence-based psychotherapy, medication or a combination of both is used to effectively treat deployment-related behavioral health issues. You can find more information about PTSD treatment options at dcoe.mil/PsychologicalHealth/PTSD_Treatment_Options.aspx. – Maj. Demietrice Pittman, Army psychologist

Q: My spouse is showing a lot of signs of PTSD but refuses to get help, what should I do? – Brad
A: In many instances, a spouse is in the best position to notice changes in a service member. If your spouse is experiencing symptoms such as nightmares, irritability, a tendency to avoid situations that remind her of deployment, a fear of crowds, or an increase in the amount of alcohol she consumes, post-traumatic stress disorder or other trauma and stressor-related disorders might be an explanation. It’s important to discuss your observations and concerns with your spouse when you both are calm and have minimal distractions. I recommend you give specific examples of how her behavior and/or mood have changed and the impact these changes have on you and the family. Additionally, it’s important to convey to your spouse that her symptoms are common and treatable. You may want to introduce her to the Real Warriors Campaign and suggest she access resources available at http://realwarriors.net and view profiles of service members like herself who struggled with psychological health symptoms and sought help. Lastly, it’s extremely important that you continue to take care of yourself and your family as you further support your spouse. – Dr. James Bender, psychologist

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