By Raquelle Collins and Sarah Rea
Roadside bombings in Afghanistan often cause mental illness in Canadian veterans.
Two research projects are underway to better evaluate and treat these illnesses.
Two Canadian researchers, Dr. Yu Tian Wang at University of British Columbia and Dr. Ibolja Cernak at University of Alberta are studying whether a drug can reduce the dysfunction of brain cells following exposure to improvised explosive devices (IED), potentially reducing or eliminating mental health and neurological issues like memory loss, anxiety and behavioural problems.
Encounters with IEDs can cause traumatic brain injury but authorities say symptoms will not appear right away. Soldiers can suffer from mental disorders and neurological problems months after returning home.
However, some who work in the field note that issues from such wartime experiences can also be psychological and emotional.
John Wright, Chair of Military Minds, a Canadian not-for-profit that helps veterans who suffer from mental health stress injuries, told Humber News that veterans need emotional support and cannot rely solely on prescription medications for their mental health issues.
“The first step is for soldiers to come forward and say they need help, which is hard for a lot of them to do. Often times, they can find their life spiralling out of control if they don’t seek help from people,” Wright said.
Evynne Sop, a twenty-four year-old who fought with the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan, told Humber News that veterans have doctors available to help manage their post traumatic stress disorder.
“When I got back home I was jumpy and I still do have bad nightmares every once and a while, probably three to four times a month. I always wake up sweating and breathing really hard. Soldiers do see some psychologists to help transition into a normal life, so that helps,” Sop said.