New Name for PTSD Could Mean Less Stigma
It has been called shell shock, battle fatigue, soldier’s heart and, most recently, post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
Now, military officers and psychiatrists are embroiled in a heated debate over whether to change the name of a condition as old as combat.
Military officers and some psychiatrists say dropping the word “disorder” in favor of “injury” will reduce the stigma that stops troops from seeking treatment. “No 19-year-old kid wants to be told he’s got a disorder,” said Gen. Peter Chiarelli, who until his retirement in February led the Army’s effort to reduce its record suicide rate.
On Monday, a working group of a dozen psychiatrists will hold a public hearing in Philadelphia to debate the name change. The issue is coming to a head because the American Psychiatric Association is updating its bible of mental illnesses, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, for the first time since 2000.
The relatively straightforward request, which originated with the U.S. Army, has raised new questions over the causes of PTSD, the best way to treat the condition and the barriers that prevent troops from getting help. The change also could have major financial implications for health insurers and federal disability claims.
Chiarelli took on the problems of PTSD and suicide after two tours in Iraq and pressed harder than any other officer to change the way service members view mental-health problems. His efforts, however, have not resulted in a reduction in suicides.
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Posted to Policy & Advocacy on May 08, 2012