Researchers look for new ways to treat mental health issues in veterans

POSTED: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - 4:26pm
UPDATED: Friday, April 13, 2012 - 8:54am


WACO -- Waco VA and the Texas A&M Health Science Center are working on some state of the art research.

It's all to find new ways to treat war veterans with mental health problems after combat.

Returning to normal life after living in a war zone is difficult to say the least. So, researchers in Waco are trying to understand the needs and experiences of our veterans.

"My hope is that we will improve the lives of veterans and their families," said Assessment Core Leader for the research, Dr. Sandra Morissette.

Dr. Morissette follows veterans for a year  to learn about their every day life experiences and figure out what triggers their emotions.

"I think it's hard for veterans when they return. Some veterans feel like they cant communicate with people or ever really express what's happened to them in a way that people can truly understand their experiences," said Dr. Morissette.

For instance, veterans with PTSD can suffer from insomnia, depression, flashbacks and many other symptoms.

Researchers are trying to find patterns to trace the development of mental health problems in veterans.

That takes into account the every day life of the veteran, right down to their genetics and brain structure.

Dr. Keith Young is studying the genetic and brain activity of veterans, and he says right now there's no clear idea about what's off in the brain of a person with PTSD.

"If we did know, it would help us search out neurotransmitter and chemical systems that we might be able to focus on to come up with better drugs," said Dr. Young.

Researchers say while there is no way to erase what the veterans have experienced in war, they are hoping to help make their transitions back home easier.

Right now, researchers are taking what patterns they find to educate psychologists so they can apply it towards helping treat their patients.

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