A PTSD Coach in Your Pocket

Experiencing a flashback on the road? Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder can now turn to their smart phones for help 24 hours a day. The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense have released a new mobile app so that you can cope with symptoms on the go.

PTSD Coach lets users track their PTSD symptoms and monitor their distress levels on a scale of 0 to 10. The app links them with local sources of support, self-assessment tests, educational information about the disorder and individualized strategies for managing symptoms.

“This is about giving Veterans and Servicemembers the help they earned when and where they need it,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki to Vets News. “We hope they, their families and friends, download this free app. Understanding PTSD and those who live with it is too important to ignore.”

There are even positive imagery exercises, where you can listen to the audio and follow along.

“And with each step, you can feel more and more tension gently melting away from your body,” according to PTSD Coach.

The VA says the software is based on evidence-based PTSD treatment. Tools range from relaxation skills to anger management and other common self-help strategies. Users can customize these based on their preferences and also integrate their own contacts, photos and music.

However, the National Center for PTSD notes that PTSD Coach is not a replacement for professional care and traditional therapy.

“The questionnaire used in PTSD Coach, the PTSD Checklist, is a reliable and valid self-report measure used across VA, DoD and in the community, but it is not intended to replace professional evaluation,” the Center says on its website.

The app is one of the first in a series to help service members manage their readjustment challenges and receive anonymous assistance. The software is free and can be downloaded from the iTunes store for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. A second version will be available for Android devices by June 2011. [HealthyState.org]