The effects of combat on the psychological health of soldiers deployed in wars have been shown to cause serious detriment to well-being and mental health, with a number of veterans developing symptoms of posttraumatic stress, or PTSD, after their return home. The U.S. military, swarmed with recent stories about rising rates of suicide among its servicemen and women along with high numbers of cases of an array of mental health concerns, has been looking for ways to respond to veterans’ needs. While their results have been criticized as disappointing by some, a recent study performed at the Naval Research Center in San Diego has found that, in particular, quick-response administration of morphine after wounding may play a major role in preventing future onset of PTSD.
The study analyzed information on wounded soldiers treated for wounds sustained in the war in Iraq between 2004 and 2006. A significantly higher number of veterans who did not eventually develop PTSD had received a morphine shot within an hour of being injured than did those veterans who exhibited symptoms of the mental health concern at a later date. Describing the shot as a potential “morning-after pill,” observers have noted that while promising, the treatment also requires further investigation to understand which element or elements have the most meaningful impact on hurt soldiers.
The treatment’s strength may at least in part reside in its speed; though morphine may have an important impact on memory and cognitive processes, the researchers found that the severity of the wounds had no apparent relation to the success of the treatment. Serving soldiers with psychotherapy or other types of noninvasive care on the spot may also become an important part of first-aid response for soldiers.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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