What is PTSD? Is it a true mental illness, the result of trauma or battlefield-related injuries, or is it something else entirely? That’s the question being posed to many experts recently as officials from the U.S Army are requesting the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to reevaluate what the condition is called.
In December, PBS Newshour covered the emerging debate, which focuses on the exclusion of the word “disorder” from the diagnosis, potentially alleviating some of the stigma preventing some veterans from seeking treatment. APA president John Oldham, MD, told the Newshour in an interview that he was “open to the suggestion” of changing the name.
The idea was first introduced by Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army's vice chief of staff, in a letter to Oldham. Chiarelli told the Houston Chronicle in a Jan. 16 story that the word disorder is “misused,” asserting instead that what soldiers experience is “an injury to the brain and how the brain works.”
According to the Chronicle’s story, Oldham is evaluating possible updates to the association's diagnostic manual with a new subcategory for PTSD, using “combat post-traumatic stress injury” as an example. He said the change would more clearly link the condition to “the impact and the injury of the combat situation and the deployment experience.”
These stories raise an interesting point. The stigma associated with many mental health conditions does seem to prevent many from seeking help. But what has been your experience with cases of PTSD? Do a large number of patients resist treatment due to the implications of having a "disorder?" And could a simple name change make that much of a difference?
Let us know your thoughts.