Where to Begin After Being Diagnosed with Post-Deployment Syndrome

Clinicians need to define a methodical framework of recovery for people with post-deployment syndrome.

If someone comes into your clinic, and for the first time they're hearing about the difficulties they've had, and let's say you've decided that they meet the criteria for Post-Deployment Syndrome or they meet the criteria for one of the other diagnoses, because it's too early, there are a number of resources that they can be provided. Let me list some of those. The key resource is the person who is sitting right opposite them at that time, because that initial interaction is vital. You know, the worst thing of all--you go to your doctor, you go through the hassle of doing it, and you put on clean underwear or whatever you do to go to the doctor, and you're seeing the doc, and--you know--you're nervous about it, but maybe this is good. and he or she kind of touches on it, but then you have so many other questions. You have so many things that aren't answered, or you think of them afterward. So it's important that that initial interaction be positive and begin, but also that there be a well-defined next step. That initial interaction needs to give you enough information so they feel comfortable without overdoing it, and then you say, "Let's have you come back in 4 weeks. Here's the treatment we're going to start for the sleep problems. When you return, we're going to talk more about this." You really want to hold those binders back and all the info back until the second, third visit. Or let the patient come to you when they're ready for that, because just kind of beginning the process is important. Just like when you're in school. You don't give them the final exam their first day. You introduce it. You get them used to thinking about it. How do I think about this? Give me a framework. And then say, "You know what? There is a lot more to this. And I'm here for you. I and my team are going to be here for you."
Posted on BrainLine November 12, 2010.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Brian King, BrainLine.

About the author: David Cifu, MD

David Cifu, MD is chairman of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Medicine in Richmond, Virginia, and national director of the PM&R program office for the Veterans Health Administration.

David X. Cifu, MD