Researchers found that the hippocampus in veterans who had not recovered from their PTSD was on average six percent smaller than in veterans who had recovered. The study involved veterans of the 1990–1991 Gulf War. Of those, 41 currently have PTSD and 41 had recovered from their PTSD. An MRI was used to measure the volumes of the veterans' brains.
Researchers are not sure, however, whether the patient's hippocampus—the part of the brain associated with new memories, emotion, spatial orientation and stress—gets smaller when patients have PTSD and returns to normal size when patients recover, or if patients with a smaller hippocampus to begin with are less likely to recover from their PTSD.
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Meanwhile, a therapist in Maryland has complained that the VA has not paid her for psychological counseling services for two months and was behind on payments since the summer of 2010. The psychologist, as quoted by SoMD News, says bureaucracy prevents veterans from receiving access to mental health services, putting veterans with psychological issues at risk of suicide.
One patient, who served in Iraq during 2003 and 2004, said it took several months to obtain disabled status from the VA after PTSD-related anxiety resulted in him losing his job. According to the SoMD News article, the patient was rejected twice for his disability claims before he went to Washington for approval.