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Your thoughts: Treating PTSD with Ecstasy
Readers sounded off about the study of the effects of MDMA, the chemical name for pure Ecstasy, on those with PTSD.
December 4th, 2012
01:08 PM ET

Your thoughts: Treating PTSD with Ecstasy

CNN recently published a three-day series on the experimental use of the drug Ecstasy as part of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Readers had a lot to say in response to scientists who are studying the effects of MDMA, the chemical name for pure Ecstasy, on patients with PTSD.

Many readers said they were familiar with past research that’s been done on these drugs and questioned why they are still illegal.

Thom Burke
"I think the judicious use of many psychedelics can be very helpful in a lot of these cases. Sad how their use got derailed in the '60s because of culture wars.”

Pagan Champ
“100% agree Thom. The real problem is that politics and policy stand in the way of advancing science and medicine for chemicals that we've had at our disposal for nearly 100 years now.”

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Stress may harm brain - but it recovers
September 3rd, 2012
03:00 PM ET

Stress may harm brain - but it recovers

We all know stress is bad for you, but just how bad?

It would be unethical to intentionally subject people to extreme psychological duress in the name of science. But ongoing military operations offer opportunities to see what happens to people exposed to stressful situations.

Researchers in the Netherlands found the brains of soldiers who go into combat show impairment in function and structure upon returning, but that these effects largely go away over time.

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Study shows PTSD symptoms improve when substance abuse treatment added
A new study on PTSD and substance abuse treatment is "practice-changing," one expert says.
August 15th, 2012
03:49 PM ET

Study shows PTSD symptoms improve when substance abuse treatment added

Combining treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse resulted in improved PTSD symptoms without worsening symptoms of substance abuse, according to a study released Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The findings, explain the Australian researchers, are contrary to conventional wisdom on how to treat PTSD and substance abuse, which commonly co-exist in patients. The common belief, they explain, has been that using the so-called "gold standard" of PTSD treatment might exacerbate substance abuse by resurfacing negative memories.

Therefore, people with substance abuse and PTSD have commonly been excluded from prolonged exposure therapy-based PTSD treatments and clinical trials using exposure therapy.

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PTSD strikes one in eight heart attack patients
June 20th, 2012
05:33 PM ET

PTSD strikes one in eight heart attack patients

PTSD – posttraumatic stress disorder – usually is associated with military personnel traumatized by combat or people who’ve been victimized by violent crime or sexual assaults.

But new study finds that one in eight patients develop PTSD after experiencing a heart attack or other major heart event. The study, published online in PLoS One, also reveals that heart patients who experience PTSD face double the risk for another heart event or dying within one to three years, compared to heart patients who do not experience PTSD.

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Memory gene may fuel PTSD
Photos of victims of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide hang in the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Kigali, Rwanda.
May 14th, 2012
03:44 PM ET

Memory gene may fuel PTSD

A vivid memory can be an asset if you're studying for an exam or trying to recall the details of a conversation, but that aptitude may backfire when it comes to forming long-term responses to emotional trauma.

In a new study, Swiss researchers have found that a certain gene associated with a good memory - and in particular, the ability to remember emotionally charged images - is also linked to an increased risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among survivors of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

"We are very confident that the gene is associated with the risk for PTSD, at least in the Rwandan population," says lead author Andreas Papassotiropoulos, M.D., a professor of molecular neuroscience at the University of Basel, in Switzerland.
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Filed under: Health.com • Mental Health • PTSD

March 6th, 2012
05:21 PM ET

Veterans with PTSD more likely to be be prescribed painkillers

As veterans return from Iraq and Afghanistan, they continue to experience pain at home. And those who are diagnosed with mental health issues, including PTSD, are most likely to be prescribed opioid painkillers, according to a new study.

When surveying more than 140,000 veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq who had been diagnosed with some sort of pain, the study’s authors found that veterans with any mental health diagnosis, including depression, anxiety disorders, or drug and alcohol abuse, were 2.4 more times likely to be prescribed opioid painkillers, like oxycodone and hydrocodone, than veterans without any mental health diagnosis.

When looking at veterans diagnosed with PTSD, in particular, that rate was even higher. 17% of those with PTSD were prescribed opioids compared to just 6.5% of veterans without any mental health diagnosis.
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Filed under: Medications • Pain • PTSD

A furry angel saved my son
December 23rd, 2011
05:26 PM ET

A furry angel saved my son

Jeff Mitchell of Braselton, Georgia, was 26 years old when he went to war in 2003. In 2007, he was forced to leave the Army through medical retirement after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.  After years of futile attempts at treatment, Jeff’s condition began to improve a few months ago after a group called Paws4Vets paired him with a service dog who had undergone her own traumas. Jeff’s mother, Carol, tells what it was like to watch her son struggle.

First, you bargain with God.

Just please let him survive.  Please let us see him again. Oh, please surround our son with your protection.

Prayers are answered. He's back.  He has survived - he's still at Fort Carson thousands of miles from home, but he's back in the United States and he is no longer being targeted by insurgents.

Little did we know then that an even more insidious enemy was trying to take our son. FULL POST

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Filed under: PTSD

October 18th, 2011
04:14 PM ET

How can I move on after my son's death?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Tuesdays, it's Dr. Charles Raison, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University, and an expert in the mind-body connection for health.

Asked by Trena, Cerritos, California

My baby boy died January 12, and my life has been a nightmare ever since. I have tried therapy, and I have been prescribed different antidepressants and nothing seems to help. I'm told I have post-traumatic stress disorder due to the nature of his death. Is there any natural alternative? Are there any other options out there, be it holistic or medicinal? How long does the grief last? I want to feel better for the sake of my other kids, but I just feel worse.

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NY, DC briefly shaken by 9/11 memories during earthquake
A law enforcement officer directs evacuating New Yorkers during Tuesday's earthquake
August 23rd, 2011
04:47 PM ET

NY, DC briefly shaken by 9/11 memories during earthquake

Tuesday's earthquake was an uncomfortable albeit brief déjà-vu for many in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Workers dashed out of buildings, many of them worried that the tremors from a 5.8-magnitude  earthquake that struck the East Coast was a bomb or terrorist attack.

When Ellen Rea first felt her New York apartment shake, she dismissed it as a neighbor running on the treadmill. The tremors got stronger and a door in her apartment popped open.  She panicked.

“I’m not a person who gets scared, but I thought of 9/11 and thought what the hell happened?” Rea said.

She remembered being near the World Trade Center nearly 10 years ago and coming home with the ashes in her hair.

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July 8th, 2011
03:30 PM ET

CPR for your brain

For a special look at "Battlefield Breakthroughs: Helping at Home," tune in to "Sanjay Gupta, M.D.," Saturday-Sunday 7:30 a.m. ET

From CNN’s Barbara Starr and Jennifer Rizzo

Soldiers in full combat gear file into a hot, deafeningly loud, and dark room. Fake blood covers the floor and drips off the plastic body parts that are scattered about. Smoke and strobe lights mix with heavy metal music and the sound of recorded screams.

After weeks of behavioral therapy for traumatic brain injuries, the soldiers are facing this intense simulation to show that they can get back to their daily work—combat.

Staff Sgt. Aaron Potter is among the group of patients at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, going through this final assessment.

“It’s probably the closest you can get without having the real thing. The smoke, the smells, the noises, the injuries,” Potter says after exiting the simulation.

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Filed under: Brain • PTSD

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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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