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PTSD Is Top Diagnosis Among Women Vets Treated By CT VA

The prime analysis of women veterans handled within the VA Connecticut Healthcare System is publish traumatic stress dysfunction and it’s often accompanied by different psychological sicknesses, in response to VA officers.

Most women veterans endure from a psychological sickness, research present, and the VA is taking steps to focus extra on female-specific psychological health care.

A nationwide research commissioned by the VA, Barriers to Care for Women Veterans, discovered that 52 % of women veterans stated they wanted psychological health care, however solely 24 % sought remedy. A survey by the nonprofit Service Women’s Action Network confirmed that women veterans think about psychological health to be their largest problem.

At Connecticut VA amenities, 1,404 women had no less than one psychological health go to final yr, representing 45 % of women who use the VA. This is a rise from 1,023 in 2012.

Lynette Adams, a psychologist and program supervisor for women veterans, attributed the rise partially to added psychological health providers. Hypertension is the second most frequent analysis for women on the Connecticut VA. Unspecified PTSD is the third, which the VA defines as having signs that do not meet the “full criteria for PTSD” however trigger vital misery or impairment in functioning.

The VA is in search of to make sure that at the very least one skilled in women’s psychological health is in every VA system nationally to seek the advice of different suppliers who deal with women. The Women’s Clinic on the West Haven VA hospital added a employees psychiatrist in 2015 after a affected person survey confirmed a necessity for it, Adams stated. The psychiatrist, Dr. Margaret Altemus, is one among three specialists designated as a women’s psychological health champion on the Connecticut VA.

Adams defined that the champions are assets for VA suppliers on points that have an effect on a lady’s psychological health, corresponding to army sexual trauma, home violence, consuming issues and reproductive health.

Altemus hosts month-to-month “tele-psychiatry” videoconferences with suppliers at outpatient clinics all through New England. One videoconference, for example, addressed the signs of menopause and the way menopause can have an effect on the course of psychological health remedies.

Altemus, a specialist in reproductive psychiatry, stated she is working with a VA psychiatrist in Chicago on a template for VA suppliers that may embrace questions they need to ask feminine sufferers about reproductive points, similar to being pregnant, contraception and menopause, that would assist present clues about an underlying psychological sickness. “If you don’t see women a lot, you might not ask” these questions, she stated.

In the Barriers to Care research, feminine veterans who did not obtain psychological health care expressed worry that the stigma of psychological sickness would harm their jobs and relationships. They additionally cited lack of transportation and youngster care, discomfort within the male-dominated VA tradition, and considerations about taking psychiatric drugs. Some stated they lacked information about VA providers. The Connecticut VA doesn’t have youngster care, however does present some transportation. Statewide, 186 psychological health care suppliers supply providers at VA hospitals, clinics and vet facilities.

Altemus stated she is “on the phone regularly” on the Connecticut VA urging women to maintain their psychological health appointments.

Melissa Piercy, an East Windsor veteran, takes her Three-year-old daughter together with her when she goes to at the very least three medical appointments weekly on the VA hospitals in Newington and West Haven.

Piercy has PTSD, nervousness and melancholy triggered by a botched bunion operation carried out by an Air Force surgeon in 2003. Her foot has required steady care. She has had 5 surgical procedures and a sixth is scheduled for April. She was pressured to go away the Air Force after one yr.

Piercy, 31, stated that due to her psychological sicknesses, “I go through days I don’t want to talk to anyone.” Among her signs are panic assaults and a recurring nightmare that she is lacking a toe. Anxious about her upcoming surgical procedure, she elevated visits to her VA psychiatrist from as soon as a month to twice. She lately joined a VA remedy group to study coping expertise.

The VA has quite a lot of help teams for women with behavioral health points. The West Haven hospital has two co-ed PTSD teams and two female-only teams for victims of army sexual trauma, and the VA’s Errera Center has a gaggle for women with critical psychiatric sicknesses. At the Hartford Vet Center in Rocky Hill, a women’s help group focuses on fight experiences, sexual trauma and PTSD.

One group on the Errera Center has turned remoted mentally sick women, who’ve confronted homelessness, into pals who meet weekly, have fun birthdays, inspect one another and exit collectively. Friendships assist “reduce the stress” from psychological sickness, stated Dr. Stephanie Lynman, a medical supervisor. “The fact that they keep coming back,” she stated, “shows the impact on their lives.”

For details about VA women’s health care, name Adams at (203) 932-5711, ext. 5402. The nationwide Women Veterans Hotline is 1-855-VA-WOMEN (829-6636). The web site is

This story was reported beneath a partnership with the Connecticut Health I-Team (

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