PTSD and depression


(music) I was born in Saigon, Vietnam, during
the Vietnam War. I didn’t think I was going to be a mental health provider until I met
a psychiatrist who’s working at the Veterans Hospital. It really, really hit home when
I met vets who were in the same country that I was born fighting a cause that my father
and my grandfather fought in. The more questions I had about these veterans and their illness,
particularly post-traumatic stress disorder from combat, there were very few answers that
my teacher or the textbooks could inform so I chose the field of psychiatry because of
its personal connection with veterans and because I was very much interested in solving
this riddle of what is PTSD, how does someone develop PTSD, how do they get better. When
a patient with depression comes to the clinic there’s no blood test to tell the doctor and
the patient that he or she has depression. There’s no blood test to tell the patient
how severe the depression is, how long it will last, what kind of course the depression
will take. That’s the major conundrum or gap in the field, that there’s nothing physical
or biological that we can use to better explain to patients why they’re feeling the way that
they are. Patients often blame themselves for the fact that they might have depression
but it turns out that’s not true. Depression is a brain disorder and not many people appreciate
that. Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder are routed in abnormalities of the
brain. Using techniques called functional brain imaging we can actually look at the
brain while it’s working and with these advances in neuroimaging we hope that as we understand
the brain better, we will begin to track and link certain biochemicals, neural chemicals,
with certain diseases of the brain like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Biomarkers can be used to guide clinicians and patients towards the treatments and the
therapies that are most likely to succeed and get them better quicker and more effectively.
University of Illinois is exceptional in its diversity of faculty and clinicians all focused
on helping patients with depression. We will make marked advances in the next 10 years
in how we go about approaching patients with depression and other mental illnesses and
we will work very, very hard to train the next generation of students, medical doctors,
psychiatrists, mental health professionals to understand and treat depression even better than they do today. Innovative Medicine. It happens here.

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