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Post-Deployment Syndrome: The Illness of War
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What About Treatments?
Failure to receive timely and appropriate treatment for a low- or high- intensity combat exposure is yet another likely factor responsible for PDS. Although this doesn’t mean that everyone who receives these treatments will be successful or everyone who doesn’t will develop PDS, these early interventions at least usually allow the body and brain to begin the process of recovery and allow you to respond more readily to future treatments. In fact, many of the difficulties experienced during wartime require a series of targeted treatments delivered over a period of time to return the body to adequate functioning, rather than just intense bursts of care. Fortunately, in the case of PDS, there are often a wide range of options as to how to best control symptoms and how to get your life back onto a productive path.
Unfortunately, if you are more than 6 months from your injury or deployment to home, a simple symptoms treatment approach may not be enough. If your exposure and/or deployment is within the past 6 months, there are a significant number of focused therapeutic interventions that are likely to work because we know that most of the elements that make up PDS respond extremely well in the first 6 months. Even so, it’s still best to go through the entire regimen outlined in this book, regardless of how well symptoms resolve or how long you’ve had them, to both enhance your chances of success and to build your overall resiliency. On the other hand, if you are like most returning warriors, you are more than 6 months from your time of initial high-exposure or from your redeployment to home. In this case, while it is always worthwhile to enter into a traditional symptom-based approach, more likely than not, you’ll want to truly take a deep dive into the comprehensive program of recovery outlined here.
Early, appropriate treatment is useful for PDS, but often isn’t the sole answer to lifelong recovery.
So What Now?
What can a person with PDS do? Here’s the good news, there’s plenty that you can do to reclaim your life. The bad news, however, is that restoring your life isn’t something that someone else can do for you, a pill can give you, or a check can provide to you. Granted that each of these things (a concerned person, health care treatments, Veterans’ benefits payments) can play a small role in helping you to regain your life and we’ll explore how each should be used to its fullest; however, the bigger message behind it all is understanding ways that you can take charge of what’s going on inside you and you can learn to return to wellness. Like anything else, the recovery contained within this book is multistep; however, these steps tend to be fluid in nature, more ramp-like than stepwise, and more flexible than other common treatment regimens or self-help books. Understanding the concepts behind the specific exercises outlined is far more important than the exercises themselves. There are not really right or wrong ways to use the healing principles outlined; however, it’s extremely important that you look at this as an approach to live your life and return to your optimal level of productivity, not as merely a treatment for PDS. The approach in this book will entail a series of exercises, treatment recommendations, and discussions that will help to focus you on the importance of keying in regaining your post-deployment functioning, while utilizing strategies to decrease PDS symptoms. This refocusing of your attention and sights from symptom resolution to the more productive goals of restoring physical and mental functioning, establishing a purpose for your day-to-day activities, identifying the most supportive environment to allow for your short- and long-term recovery, and to resolving to redefi ne your post-deployment mindset toward one of progressive healing and eventual wellness are the keys to success from PDS.
Refocusing yourself away from symptoms and towards progressive wellness is the key to PDS.
So, PDS is truly the illness of war. There are many things that may predispose you to have gotten PDS and just as many factors from military theater and the post-deployment period that may have brought about and worsened your condition. We’ll begin to look at treatments that are out there in the military, the Veterans’ hospitals, and other health care centers across the country. Hopefully, there are some of these standard treatments that can help you. Then, we’ll take you through a step-by-step program to help you get your PDS under control, begin the process of regaining your life, and over time getting you on the road to a lifetime of wellness. You have the ability to achieve all of this within you—you just need to learn how.
We are the knowing, not the conditions known.
— Ekhart Tolle
From OVERCOMING POST-DEPLOYMENT SYNDROME: A six step mission to health by David X. Cifu, MD and Cory Blake. © 2011 Demos Medical Publishing, LLC. Used with permission. www.demosmedpub.com.