Avatar universal

PTSD and Meds


I've been having a hard time adjusting since I returned from Iraq in May 08. This was my second deployment..first was to Afghanistan I which I returned and had no problems readjusting. I was injured in a rocket attack in April. I suffered reletivly minor injuries and thought I was coping fairly well.  I am still a bit jumpy at times, but most of the time I'm OK. I mean, how much of a response is normal? That sounds like a silly question....but I don't know what the "average" as far as adjustment after returning from combat. Should I always be a bit jumpy? It's not bad enough to where I'm scared to leave my house....I don't have flashbacks...etc. But I am uncomfortable in large crowds. Loud noises bother me. I've been having problems sleeping and lately I've been spaced out...with concentration problems(more below).

I've been suffering the effects of an ear injury and TBI since Apr 08. Over the past few months, my neurologist has tried various medications to try to get my headaches under control. I am in nearly constant pain. The headaches can be debilitating at times. It has affected my mood. I've tried an anti depressant (Pamelor)...but I actually found that while it relived some pain...I started to have mood swings. The pamelor actually made me anxious and I had a panic attack and anxiety. (First time I've had a Panic attack like this in my life!! It was scary) So we stopped the pamelor.

The best med for my headaches I found is an anti seizure(Topamax). But it causes me to lose some cognitive function, slur some words, forget things, etc. The TBI affected my memory and speech already...then add on the effects of the meds. So....I am less pain....but I am getting extremely frustrated. I get angry easy at everything. It is driving my marriage to the breaking point. My wife says I'm becoming a different person.

So...the point of all this:

Last week, my neurolgist prescribed Seraquil because I've been having increasing problems sleeping. It did the trick....I got the best sleep I've had since before I went to war. Now here's the problem....

I'm sleeping great for the first time....but I'm dreaming vividly. Some of those dreams involve my time in Iraq and the incident in which I was injured. Some are flashbacks...exactly like it occured. On two occassions in the past week, I've dreamed of the incident where I was killed in the attack and it scared me. I've also just had general dreams of war--rocket attacks, attacks on Humvee convoys, etc. (involves me in the dream, but isn't a flashback).

So, my question.....has anyone had meds stir dreams that weren't there before? The sleep is great in that I have much more energy...but the wakeup is a bit scary!! (This morning when the alarm went off I thought it was a rocket attack alarm and rolled off the bed onto the floor..scared my wife)

I had very few dreams at all before this last week....certainly none this vivid.

Is this PTSD? When I'm awake (unless someone slams a door or surprises me)..I'm generally OK....I'm not avoiding people...I'm not having disturbing thoughts all day, etc. I didn't think I had PTSD before but now I'm wondering about my mental well being. I never knew these nightmares were inside until last week...and now they're getting worse.

Any suggestions? I'm heitant to get help. I'm still active duty and would really like to stay in the military. I'm scared they will kick me out.

4 Responses
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535822 tn?1443976780
I think you will receive some more posts ,from soldiers like your self and with similar problems,who are far more qualified than I, to answer, I think you have been back from War a short time and truly you have to give it time , the Meds you are taking are more than likely the cause of the side effects  ,to find out if you have PSTD you would need an evaluation. It may be too early but when you feel you can and have spoken to your Doctor you may find weaning off the Meds would help you with the side effects you describe but definatly take advice before you do so.I have had some experience with my Brother and my Father years ago coming home from War and things pretty much are the same today except they werent given the same Meds, and it did take time, they were in the services for life, and they did get better ,it simply takes time ,it must be hard on your wife I am sure she understands what you have been through, and will be patient , This will pass , it takes time just Endure and thank you for what you have done for this American/Brit and my adopted Country, America
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Avatar universal
After speaking to my Dr (Neurologist), she feels that I probably should see someone to screen for PTSD. I'm nervous about this. I really want to stay in the military...I had planned on making it a career. What if I get diagnosed with PTSD, will the military kick me out?

I'm also concerned that I have a symptoms related to TBI (memory loss, cognitive defect, etc). I'm worried that if I get a diagnosis of PTSD, the military will try to blame this all on "mental" problems and not treat my obvious physical injuries. Call me a cynic, I'm just afraid they'll find some loophole to kick me out without benefits if they can somehow blame this on mental problems. I also have a security clearance..will this affect that?

As my neurologist explains, for some reason TBI and PTSD can feed off one another. If you have a TBI, you have a much greater risk of PTSD...the medics don't know why. I just really scared right now. I want tho get treatment, but I don't want to be treated like a basket case and I don't want to be kicked to the curb either.

I don't know wanyone else with PTSD, but I'm not like "freaking out" like you see in the movies. Other than being in constant pain, the headaches, dizzy spells, etc. I'm pretty much OK. But I have nightmares every so often. I get nervous in large crowds. Someone tapping me on the shoulder will make me jump. Small things can set it off...I could be driving down the road and a car will approach me fast. I'll swerve or slam the gas. I don't even think just instinct. If I see something in the road....I've slammed on the brakes (scaring the **** out of my wife) to avoid going over it or close to it. I even cringe when I pass a broken down car on the shoulder. I can't even explain why--it's just an instinctive reaction. Oh yeah....and traffic jams make me nervous...I feel trapped...like the car next to me could explode any minute. I don't go crazy....but I get a bit anxious.

I don't get flashbacks like in the movies...I don't break with reality. I just don't think I'll ever look at the world again.

Helpful - 0
354604 tn?1328552066
Nate you could never look at the world the same way again! A simple description of ptsd is "a normal reaction to an abnormal event". Dang, we all jump (a bit) when we here loud noises. And I'd bet that most of us do not inherently 'trust' either. The extremes you've experienced leave you with a really high startle response. It's the fight of flight instinct that we all have. Heck, I hit the side of a building and ducked the first time I ever heard a helicopter ~ and I was stateside. Thank god for the instincts that have kept us alive.
The link between the TBI & PTSD ~ ??? Dang! If you've experienced even one explosion it's going to give you a degree of ptsd!! Explosions are not a normal experience!
Frickin doc's make me mad when they try to sugar coat ****, avoiding telling the complete truth of the situation ~ but then military medics/docs may have a vested interest in not labeling anything as ptsd/tbi related on your behalf. It would verify their culpability for your treatement ~ and it's been my experience that the gov't is quite adept at denying responsibility. That's just my bias ~ I've worked with too many Veterans that have waited 20-30+++ years for their medical benefits for combat related conditions!!
Just lights a fire under me!!
I wish I had your answers with your desire to stay active duty. You're obviously one hell of a soldier! There's something about crisis situations, the rocket attack in April, that puts us in to the fight or flight mode! Then when the 'crisis' subsides, we're left with the aftermath ~ the startle response, re-calling the event be it through sight, sound, smell, other stimuli. Our mind and body want to continue the response as if we're still in fight/flight crisis because that's how we stay safe, that's how we stay alive. so after an event it just takes time for our system to return closer to 'where it was' prior to the event.
Sir, you're very much needed active duty! There are so many other ways for you to be in service and continue your career in the military without returning to an overseas mission.
I wish I had a legal avenue to reassure you! I just cannot believe that this nation would not allow you to coninue your active duty service when we are actively engaged in a war with missions ongoing in so many different countries! There has to be a way for you to anonmymously get your questions answered (so you're still protecting your career like you said you were concerned about).
Look up the VA.gov site and search the UCMJ-CFR's. I have some friends on my myspace page that specialize in benefits. Sign on there through myspace ******* slash lzpwwl ~ LZ Freedom ~ and search my friends for the benefits people! There's a few 'friends' on my page that specialize in Veterans laws and benefits. I hope this will give you an avenue to have all your questions answered.
I've rambled long enough... and in my opinion, people don't go around wondering if they have ptsd or not, if they don't have it -not without some other type of bizarre abnormalities going on, which is not the case with you. Even when we have panic attacks to the extreme, or out of the blue, they can be traced back to traumatic events.
Just know that the dreams/flashbacks do not come to our minds unless our physiology is already able to handle dealing with them ~ as hard as they can be. The body has a way of numbing to protect us! It's a great mechanism, again our bodies save us when they're on auto pilot.
It's got to be a catch .22 when you have to go the same system that can betray you for the services you need ~ may your path be cleared ~ if I could take point for you buddy, I'd do it in a second, just to give you a break, in safety and peace ~ Tapper light ~ Wosh
Helpful - 0
471949 tn?1236904026
i was active duty for 12 years....dx with PTSD and promptly kicked out of the military!  i had a perfect, spotless military record.  i was promoted ahead of my peers, on the fast-track, etc. but because i was the victim of a crime and asked for help from the mental health professionals, i was medically discharged.

i'm now a 100% disabled vet.

i'd say those dreams you are having are a likely side effect of the seroquel.  i've heard of others who take this med talk of wild dreams...but partly based on real life events.  i also take topomax for migraines and yes, it does have some bad side effects of making you forgetful (it's often called topa-stupid or dopa-max).

i can't say what you should do as only you know how you feel.  but i just wanted you to know what happened to me...and it has happened to others.  please take good care of yourself....thanks for your service.
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