(05/09/14) - It may be possible to end a lot of suffering, for people living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, by "re-setting" their brains. PTSD affects nearly 30 percent of vets who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. These men and women often experience intense and fearful memories that they just can't escape.
Gunfire, explosions and death are all thing Marine Sargeant, Josh Lewis and Navy religious program specialist, Keeshaun Coffeey experienced during their tours of duty.
"It really changed my personality. War changes everybody," says Sgt. Lewis, who did four tours of duty in the Middle East.
"I mentally and emotionally became numb to adverse situations," says Coffeey, who saw dead bodies every day. When his best friend died in the line of duty, Coffee realized something was wrong, "I couldn't cry. I didn't know what to do."
Dr. John Hart and researchers at the Center for Brain Health, have recently discovered how bad memories are stored in the brain, "We found these brain waves that hook the fear center to the memory centers."
When the fear center of the brain, called the amygdala, attaches to the memory area of the brain, it sends a signal with a rhythm of four hertz. To disrupt this signal, doctors are using repetitive trans-cranial magnetic stimulation. A device is placed on the participants head, then a slow electrical current travels to the front part of the brain, targeting the amygdala, which is hoped will keep the fear and memory areas of the brain from attaching.
Another technique is a method called cognitive processing therapy. First, participants talk about their fears and relive them in a safe setting. Josh participated in this smart training and went from having a headache every six weeks to having one every six months.
Coffee says the magnetics treatment has helped him cope with his emotions, "I can definitely grieve and show emotion now."
Two men - who have seen the worst, but refuse to let it get the best of them.