Apr 4, 2014 12:29 AM by Maddie Garrett

Questions of PTSD in Fort Hood Shooting

Fort Hood leaders revealed that suspected shooter, Specialist Ivan Lopez's mental health likely played a part in the deadly shooting Wednesday. The incident once again brings post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) into the spotlight. Whether he was suffering from PTSD or not, the aftermath of the shooting is going to impact the military as a whole.

Colorado Springs Licensed Counselor Stefanie Brown specializes in treating post traumatic stress disorder.

"If people want to assume that he's got PTSD and that's why he engaged in this shooting, that's a real disservice to him, to his family, to the military in general and a lot of other veterans and active duty members who have post traumatic stress disorder," said Brown.

She said we may never know if Lopez would have been diagnosed with PTSD, he was still being analyzed by military specialists, but his self reported brain injury could have played a part.

"Brain injuries can change your personality," explained Brown.

It's also known that Lopez was being treated for depression, anxiety and trouble sleeping.

"He had a medical history that indicates unstable psychiatric and psychological condition," said Fort Hood Commanding General, Lt. General Mark Milley.

Brown added that the medicines used to treat those conditions, coupled with a brain injury, could have negative effects. But we may never know for sure what the case was for Lopez.

"But even with traumatic brain injury there's so many pieces to the puzzle and it's such an individualized case, just like the other one Major Hasan was, that I don't think we can draw any generalizations from it," said Brown.

She warns against making any kind generalizations about the incident or PTSD.

"There are hundreds of thousands of people on the planet with PTSD, from military service or otherwise, that can handle a weapon and concealed carry, otherwise, 100 percent responsibly," she said.

Beyond the shooter, Brown said this soldier-on-soldier violence can take its toll on service members everywhere.

"When you have certain assumptions about I'm safe because I'm among my own, and then that assumption turns out to be not true in this incident, and all of a sudden your sense of safety is shattered," she explained.

Brown said it can be especially hard for those with PTSD.

"They might be triggered by this incident in way that causes a lot more unsettling events to happen, nightmares, continuing anxiety that doesn't settle down over the next couple of weeks," Brown said.

One of the toughest things about PTSD is getting past the stigma. Brown said whether the alleged shooter had PTSD or mental health problems before entering the military, she hopes this incident doesn't deter people from getting help.


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