National PTSD Awareness Month

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June is National PTSD Awareness Month. It’s a nationwide effort to raise public awareness of PTSD and effective treatments. Many of those suffering from PTSD served in our nation’s military, with an estimated 540,000 veterans suffering from the debilitating condition. Dr. Amy Serin, chief science officer and co-founder of The TouchPoint Solution, will discuss PTSD and how it can be treated, along with Reece Green, a , a Marine Corp veteran who volunteers with Ripple Effect, a non-profit that helps veterans struggling with suicidal thoughts and PTSD.

RICK DEBRUHL: JUNE IS NATIONAL PTSD AWARENESS MONTH. NOW MANY OF THOSE SUFFERING FROM PTSD SERVED IN OUR NATION'S MILITARY WITH AN ESTIMATED 540,000 VETERANS SUFFERING FROM DEBILITATING CONDITION. HERE TO TALK ABOUT THIS IMPORTANT ISSUE IS AMY SERIN, CHIEF SCIENCE OFFICER AND CO-FOUNDER, ALONG WITH REECE GREEN, A MARINE CORPS VETERAN WHO VOLUNTEERS WITH RIPPLE EFFECT, A NONPROFIT THAT HELPS VETERANS STRUGGLING WITH SUICIDAL THOUGHTS AND PTSD. TO BE NOTED, MR. GREEN DOES NOT SUFFER WITH PTSD. HE'S WORKING WITH THIS ORGANIZATION. HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN SOMEBODY HAS A PTSD AS OPPOSED TO JUST STRESS?

AMY SERIN: SOMEONE'S BEEN THROUGH TRAUMA, HAVE DIFFICULTY SLEEPING, AND IS IN A STATE OF HYPERAROUSAL AND NERVOUS SYSTEM AROUSAL, THOSE ARE THE SYMPTOMS TO HAVING PTSD RATHER THAN JUST STRESS.

RICK DEBRUHL: WHERE DOES IT BEGIN TO MANIFEST? YOU HAVE A VETERAN WHO RETURNS HOME FROM OVERSEES. IS IT WHEN IT HAPPENS, GETS HOME, A TRAUMATIC EVENT AFTER THAT. WHEN DOES IT MANIFEST? WHEN DO YOU SEE IT?

AMY SERIN: IT'S DIFFERENT IN A TRAUMATIC EVENT. PEOPLE GO THROUGH A SERIES OF SMALLER TRAUMATIC EVENTS. JUST VARIES WITH THE EVENT AND THE INDIVIDUAL.

RICK DEBRUHL: AND IS THERE A WIDE SPECTRUM AMONG PEOPLE AND THE WAY THEY FEEL PTSD?

AMY SERIN: COULD BE SOME OVERLAPS BUT WHAT HAPPENS PEOPLE GET SOME OF THE EXPERIENCE OF WHERE THEY ARE HAVING A HARD TIME SLEEPING OR THEY ARE TOO HYPERAROUSED A LOT. THOSE ARE TWO THINGS THAT ARE MOST COMMON ISSUES WITH PTSD.

RICK DEBRUHL: TALK TO YOU ABOUT -- YOU WERE IN THE MARINE CORPS. EVERYBODY HAS A DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE AS THEY GO THROUGH THAT. BUT YOU'RE WORKING WITH AN ORGANIZATION. AND IT WAS FOUNDED BY A WOMAN WHOSE SON COMMITTED SUICIDE. EXPLAIN THE STORY AND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF IT.

REECE GREEN: LINDA SHOCKLEY WHO STARTED THE RIPPLE EFFECT. THE RIPPLE EFFECT.ORG. AND SHE STARTED IT IN HONOR OF HER LATE SON JOE SHOCKLEY WHO WAS IN THE ARMY, HE WAS A VETERAN OF THE IRAQI FREEDOM AND OPERATION FREEDOM WAR IN AFGHANISTAN AS WELL. HE CAME HOME AND THINGS WEREN'T RIGHT. HE WAS DIAGNOSED WITH PTSD, WAS ISSUED MEDICATION, STARTED TO SELF-MEDICATE BEYOND THAT. AND IT GOT TO WHERE HE WAS MEDICATING HEAVILY AND HE ENDED UP TAKING HIS OWN LIFE. ARIZONA HAS THE HIGHEST RATE FOR SUICIDE AMONGST VETERANS. NATIONALLY 22 VETERANS A DAY COMMIT SUICIDE IN THIS COUNTRY. AND LINDA WANTED TO DO SOMETHING AND MAKE IT HER LIFE'S MISSION TO TAKE THAT NUMBER FROM 22-0. WHILE I'VE LEARNED JUST THROUGH THE INDUSTRY AND ALSO AS A CONSUMER OF TOUCHPOINT SOLUTIONS THAT IT DOES REDUCE ANXIETY AND STRESS AND IT'S SOMETHING THAT WE'RE GOING TO CO-PARTNER ON AND BRING THIS AND HOPEFULLY BE A GAME CHANGER.

RICK DEBRUHL: WHAT ARE THE TREATMENTS? WHAT CAN SOMEBODY DO WHEN THEY'RE IN A SITUATION TO -- AND IMAGINE SOME PEOPLE WANT TO DEAL WITH IT ON THEIR OWN. PROBABLY NOT THE BEST SOLUTION.

AMY SERIN: I DON'T RECOMMEND THAT.

RICK DEBRUHL: YEAH. SO WHAT ARE THE TREATMENTS THAT WORK?

AMY SERIN: THE BEST TREATMENTS FOR PTSD ARE EMDR THERAPY AND TRAUMA FOCUSED THERAPY.

RICK DEBRUHL: BIG WORDS

AMY SERIN: EYE MOVEMENT DESENSITIZATION PROCESSING AND B A THERAPY THAT ADDS SOMETHING CALLED BILATERAL STIMULATION TO IMPROVE THE EFFECT. FOR TRAUMA FOCUSED THERAPY, IT'S OTHER ELEMENTS BESIDES JUST TALKING AND LISTENING THAT SEEM TO PRODUCE A BETTER EFFECT. WE'VE TAKEN THE BILATERAL STIMULATION COMPONENT OUT AND PUT IT IN A CONSUMER PROJECT SO INDIVIDUALS FOR PTSD CAN HAVE ACCESS TO STRESS RELIEF IN REAL TIME WHEN THEY'RE NOT IN THEIR DOCTORS' OFFICES.

RICK DEBRUHL: GOING BACK TO THE TREATMENT -- SO IF I'M SOMEBODY AND I KNOW SOMEBODY WHO I FEEL HAS A PROBLEM, HOW DO I REACH OUT AND HELP THAT PERSON.

AMY SERIN: I THINK THAT YOU COULD ENCOURAGE A PERSON TO TALK TO A DOCTOR.

RICK DEBRUHL: HARD TO GET SOMEBODY TO BREAK DOWN THAT WALL TO ADMIT THEY HAVE THAT PROBLEM, ISN'T IT?

AMY SERIN: I THINK SO. THERE'S A STIGMA ABOUT THINGS. PEOPLE THINK THERE'S A WEAKNESS THAT CREATES PTSD. WE SHOWED IN OUR SCIENCE THAT'S NOT THE CASE. ANYONE IS SUSCEPTIBLE TO PTSD BASED ON THEIR EXPERIENCES. IT'S TOO BAD THAT PEOPLE TRY TO BRUSH THIS UNDER THE RUG AND SUFFER WITH SLEEPLESS NIGHTS, STRESS, FREQUENT OUTBURSTS AND RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS AND ADDICTIONS. IT DID YOU WANT HAVE TO BE THAT WAY. PTSD IS CURABLE.

RICK DEBRUHL: AND REECE, LET'S TALK ABOUT WHAT YOUR ORGANIZATION DOES IN TERMS OF REACHING OUT AND TRYING TO SPREAD THAT MESSAGE AND HELP PEOPLE UNDERSTAND. WHAT DO YOU DO?

REECE GREEN: WE DO A LOT OF SUICIDE PREVENTION WORKSHOPS. WE REACH OUT TO VETERANS. TYPICALLY A VETERAN WHEN HE EXITS THE MILITARY, THERE'S A PROGRAM THAT TRANSITIONS THEM FROM MILITARY SERVICE BACK IN SOCIETY. IT'S NOT DIALED IN ALL THE TIME. SO WHEN VETERANS REINTEGRATE BACK INTO SOCIETY THEY'RE NOT DIALED IN SOMETIMES. WE TRY TO REACH THOSE VETERANS AT SCHOOLS, HOMELESS SHELTERS, WHEREVER THEY COULD BE. WHEREVER WE GET FEEDBACK FROM VETERANS WHERE OTHER VETERANS ARE. WE GET HOT LINES, RIPPLEEFFECTAZ.ORG. WE WORK WITH OTHER VETERAN SERVICES TO HELP WITH JOBS. LEGAL SERVICES, STUFF LIKE THAT. ALL THINGS VETERANS.

RICK DEBRUHL: RIPPLEEFFECTAZ.ORG IS WHERE PEOPLE FIND THE INFORMATION?

REECE GREEN: YES, SIR.

RICK DEBRUHL: AND DR. SERIN, ONE LAST QUESTION FAIRLY BRIEFLY, HAVE WE MADE MUCH PROGRESS IN THIS AREA?
AMY SERIN: NEUROSCIENCE HAS MADE HUGE PROGRESS. PTSD IS CURABLE. THERE ARE SOLUTIONS LIKE IN REAL TIME PEOPLE CAN HAVE ACCESS TO STRESS RELIEF. PEOPLE ARE NOT ACCESSING THESE SOLUTIONS. IT'S NOT RECOMMENDED AND PEOPLE ARE GOING TO OTHER THINGS THAT ARE NOT AS EFFECTIVE. THIS EPIDEMIC DOESN'T HAVE TO CONTINUE TO BE AN EPIDEMIC.

RICK DEBRUHL: OBVIOUSLY YOU ARE WORKING IN THE INNER CIRCLE OF THIS. AS YOU LOOK AT THIS PROBLEM, DO YOU FEEL LIKE WE ARE MAKING THAT PROGRESS THAT'S NECESSARY? ONCE AGAIN, BACK IN THE 70s, PEOPLE COMING BACK FROM VIETNAM DIDN'T EVEN UNDERSTAND PTSD EXISTED. NOW WE UNDERSTAND IT, WE TALK ABOUT IT A LOT. HAVE WE TURNED A CURB YET?

AMY SERIN: THE IMPORTANT CORNER WE NEED TO TURN IS FOR PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND THAT PTSD IS NOT A LIFE SENTENCE, PTSD IS CURABLE.

RICK DEBRUHL: ONCE AGAIN DR. AMY SERIN, WE APPRECIATE YOUR TIME. THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE. THE CO-FOUNDER OF TOUCH POINT SOLUTIONS, WE APPRECIATE YOUR TIME. WE APPRECIATE YOUR TIME AS WELL. HOPEFULLY WE CAN BRING A LENGTHY AWARENESS OF IT THIS MONTH. IT IS PTSD AWARENESS MONTH. LET'S GO ON TO OTHER THINGS, NOT A LOT OF 13-YEAR-OLDS THAT HAVE AN EYE ON A CAREER BUT MEET ONE WHO IS READY TO MAKE HIS MARK ON THE WORLD COMING UP IN A MOMENT.

Amy Serin: Chief Science Officer, Co-founder, TouchPoint Solution

Reece Green: Marine Corps Veteran, Ripple Effect Volunteer

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