About Me

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I'm the author of four books: Warrior SOS, The Work of Death, Together Forever, and Leaders Wanted. I'm in the doc film Please Remove Your Shoes. I've blogged for The Washington Times, and I write for Guns.com. I've worked for the high-profile U.S.-led Roadmap to Mideast Peace in Israel and Palestine. I've also worked as a SWAT team leader, a Federal Air Marshal and a sole-source training instructor on a classified contract with a U.S. government customer. My master's degree is in Military Studies and terrorism. I'm a former noncommissioned and commissioned Army officer, with service in Iraq. I've been Scuba diving and skydiving; I have trained with members of the U.S. Olympic Ski Team, and I'm an FBI-trained crisis negotiator. My interests lie in helping others and in strengthening America through inspiring moral courage, government fiscal responsibility and accountability, and maintaining principles that have made--and will continue to make--the United States of America a blessed and prosperous country. I'm a father of six, a husband, and a police officer. I reside in Utah, and I'm a Mormon. See also https://jeffreydenning.wordpress.com.

October 20, 2012

The PTSD Brain -- "Check out the Size of that Amygdala"

Years ago (in 2002 or 2003 to be more precise), I read a study about Neuropeptide Y (a.k.a. NPY) and tests done in soldiers going through SERE School at Fort Bragg. According to researchers, veteran Special Forces operators (Green Berets) were less upset or stressed during SERE school than the younger SOF soldiers (e.g. Rangers). The study showed that the SF operators had much higher NPY than the younger troops.

I had read about that study and referenced it (although not specifically for the NPY-link) when I published an article with the Texas Tactical Police Officer Association (TTPOA) Command Magazine in the Winter issue of 2003. I titled it “Deadly Confrontations: Harnessing Psychological and Physiological Stressors in Order to Win the Fight."

Back then, and even to some degree now, I held a theory that those operators with high NPY had PTS(d). When an operator isn't operating or when he's having difficulty adjusting that's just normalcy exhibiting itself. Right?

If the mental health community constantly uses the axiom or the adage that anyone with PTSD is experiencing "a normal reaction to an abnormal circumstance", then why has PTS(d) been labeled as a "disease"? By doing so, there's a gross social stigma, troops refusing to get help or being seen as "crazy" if they open up and admit what should otherwise be "normal" problems from post-combat conflict.

Of course, there is no easy answer, but there must be better solutions. A society full of warriors would understand, but would the media or the warrior's society ever embrace the realities of the change on so many warriors (and subsequently their families) whose lives have changed since coming home?

I definitely don't have all the answers, and I might be wrong on many of my unconventional theories, but the fact remains, this is a pretty fascinating video and worth watching for anyone interested in how the brain works: This is your brain; this is your brain with PTSD.

Jeffrey Denning

Now, the YouTube description of the embedded video follows. Length 1:28 min.

Professor John Krystal introduced Tilde Cafe to specific regions of the brain that play a role in stress and resiliency, such as the amygdala, the hippocampus, and the winner of all names for the afternoon, the "bed nucleus stria terminalis"! Each of these, and other regions of the brain, are finely tuned to recognize and respond to unpleasant stimuli. But there are instances where this fine tuning can be disrupted, or is not function optimally, leading to anxiety and stress that becomes difficult to cope with. With Professor Krystal's extensive experience working with veterans in his capacity as Director of the Clinical Neuroscience Division at the VA National Center for PTSD, we had a front row perspective on the status of research being carried out to help PTSD patients. Of the many novel approaches, a fascinating one related to Neuropeptide Y, one of the neurotransmitters we heard about in the September café. Neuropeptide Y has the ability to confer resiliency and thus the ability to cope with stress, and there is active research to determine how this can be harnessed in coping with PTSD and perhaps even pre-empting it.

To read amazing interviews with warriors, check out Warrior SOS: Interviews, Insights and Inspiration, the book on Amazon.com. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D3WO7VK

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