Police in Texas have charged Eddie Ray Routh, a 25-year-old U.S. Marine reservist, with capital murder. Arrest records indicate that Routh had been twice taken to a mental hospital in recent months, and had told police he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
When Sgt. Brandon McCoy returned from Iraq, he showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. His wife, Alicia, remembers him being on edge in public.
"I'm watching him, and his trigger finger never stopped moving, constantly," says Alicia.
Four years later, after he returned from a tour in Afghanistan in 2011, she says, she'd wake up with his hands wrapped around her throat. She told him: Get help or get a divorce. So he scheduled an appointment and — along with Alicia — trekked to the Fort Campbell hospital located on the Tennessee-Kentucky border.
That's the message from brain scientists studying the relationship between stress and problems such as depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
Researchers at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in New Orleans presented studies showing how stress caused by everything from battlefield trauma to bullying can alter brain circuitry in ways that have long-term effects on mental health.
The military and the Department of Veterans Affairs say they want more veterans and service members to get appropriate treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
That's why they're tweaking the way they define and treat PTSD. But if this approach works, it could add to the backlog of PTSD cases.
For years, the standard definition for post-traumatic stress disorder had a key feature that didn't fit for the military. It said that the standard victim responds to the trauma he or she has experienced with "helplessness and fear."