One of the most challenging aspects of war-related mental health issues is the identification of the illness. There are no specific blood tests or specific medical tests that identify psychological illness. The diagnosis of a mental illness is based on a checklist of criteria or an evaluation that is done through a series of pen/paper/computer and interview assessments often known as neuro-psychological evaluations. Many of the illnesses can have aspects of the other. For example, hypersensitivity (overly sensitive to light, sound, etc.) can be a symptom of several things.
Following is a list of common mental health diagnoses for many Veterans and some helpful hints to be aware of when working with your healing team and family.
- Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)
- Bi-Polar Disorder (Manic-Depression)
- Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Sleep Disorders
- Substance Dependence
- Physical Symptoms that may Appear like Psychological Symptoms
MANY symptoms can indicate either readjustment, medical AND/OR psychological illnesses. Many MEDICAL illnesses DO have tests that can rule out (R/O) problems. It is suggested that you work closely with healing care team (physicians, counselors, etc.) to make sure they are communicating with each other. If a veteran is NOT showing signs of improvement, then do not hesitate to request further tests or seek a healing practitioner that will LISTEN TO YOU, work with you, and help the veteran to find relief.
The MOST important thing is that YOU and the veteran become educated about the diagnosis AND any medications used to treat the diagnosis. ALWAYS ASK ABOUT THE DIAGNOSIS AND MEDIATIONS and for a TREATMENT PLAN.
Everything that affects the veteran, affects the family and community. If the veteran has been diagnosed with a mental health issue, you will need to work as a team to communicate and support one another.
Drug Watch – www.drugwatch.com A website dedicated to identifying drugs that may have side effects that are troublesome or are under FDA investigation.
Drug Dangers – www.drugdangers.com is also an excellent source for obtaining information about possible side effects of medications.
Recall Guide – https://www.recallguide.org/ an ongoing list of medications that the FDA is recalling. The site may ask you for a login, but that is not necessary to review the “recalls”, just click on the link at the top of the site.
Alert! Remember that prolonged and extensive use of medications can be damaging to the liver. Additionally, taking many medications over a long period of time can damage the teeth by producing DRY MOUTH. Be very cautious of prolonged and extensive use of all medications.
Disclaimer: Veterans’ Families United Foundation does not guarantee results or outcome of the information provided in any of its materials.
Other war-related illnesses
www.mesothelioma.com Veterans can develop mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure during their military service. Review this website if you have questions about mesothelioma.
- Learn as much as you can about the diagnosis.
- Learn as much as you can about the treatment and medications.
- If the treatment and medications are not making things better OR are making things worse, TALK TO YOUR healing professional. If they do not respond, seek other opinions. You deserve to be heard.
- Ask your care team what the Treatment Plan is and to communicate to other members of the care team.
- Seek help yourself. You will need support during this time.
- Ask the healing professional what you can do to support your soldier.
- www.healthjourneys.com Resources by author Belleruth Naperstek for trauma. Invisible Heros: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal is an excellent book for PTSD/depression/anxiety and there are wonderful healing CD’s available.
- www.emdr.com Information about Eye Movement Desensitization Reprosessing and it’s healing protentional for Trauma victims.
- www.emofree.com Information on Emotional Field Therapy and it’s healing potential for Trauma victims.
- www.aa.org/ Information on the AA 12 step program and path of recovery and meetings available in your hometown.
- www.na.com Information on Narcotics Anonymous and the 12 step program and path to recovery and meetings available in your home town.
- www.coda.org Information on Codependents Anonymous – learning how to live with an addicted person and meeting availability in your hometown.