New Treatment for Anxiety May Reduce Suicide Risk in Veterans

Researchers at Florida State University developed a computer program to help reduce anxiety sensitivity in patients, including veterans, who may also be at higher risk of suicide. Their study, published in the December issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, describes results of a computer intervention to help patients with anxiety sensitivity better understand and manage the condition.

The treatment, called the Cognitive Anxiety Sensitivity Treatment (CAST), consists of a 45-minute session where videos and other interactive features explains the symptoms of anxiety and breaks down how to improve the physical and mental responses to these symptoms. During testing, volunteers with above-average anxiety sensitivity saw their sensitivity scores drop drastically after CAST sessions compared to another group that received a computer lesson on healthy lifestyle benefits.

The treatment and subsequent relief delivered during CAST sessions was comparable to treatment given during in-office sessions with a therapist. The benefit of CAST is that it takes less time and involves no office visits or sessions with a therapist.

The CAST sessions could be a more effective way of extending mental health support and care to veterans who are often reluctant to seek help from a therapist. The hope is that CAST will become an alternative for those at high risk of suicide to get help.

Veteran suicides make up about 20 percent of the annual suicide rate, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has developed several resources and centers to provide outreach for troubled veterans, including a 24-hour crisis line and a dedicated Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention.

Anxiety sensitivity is just one of the many mental health conditions that a servicemember might develop that is related to military service. Even non-combat soldiers can suffer from disabling mental conditions due to the nature of their jobs. If you or a loved one developed a mental condition after serving in the military, contact Veterans Help Group ® for assistance and support for your VA disability claim. Call today – 1-855-855-8992.