It’s important that our communities understand the prevalence of hormone imbalance among veterans because of symptom overlap with TBI/PTSD. This overlap of symptoms could lead to an exacerbation of symptoms or even misdiagnosis. Veterans presenting with mood swings, weight gain, irritability, apathy, sleeplessness, depression, or low sex drive should have hormone levels checked to ensure that an imbalance is not masquerading as a brain injury or mental health disorder, or simply making symptoms of TBI/PTSD worse. Hormone imbalances are common, relatively easily treatable, and responsible for many of the same symptoms that veterans report when seeking mental healthcare. If even one out of ten veterans who sought help for TBI/PTSD had a hormone imbalance that could be treated, wouldn’t that be worth examining?
The Friends of GROM, a non profit organization started by former GROM operators in Poland, believe so. Poland has had a very low incidence of diagnosis of TBI/PTSD despite being a Coalition Ally for the duration of the GWOT, and many of their veterans are beginning to ask for more resources. As a result, their Ministries of Health and Defense are looking to healthcare providers in Poland and abroad for guidance on how to ensure proper diagnosis. I believe hormones should be a piece of that conversation from the beginning. Their military has been deployed repeatedly to both Iraq and Afghanistan on very demanding deployment cycles. As a result, Dr. LeMay and I are working with the Friends of GROM to get the same metabolic testing and treatment for GROM operators that we currently do for SEALs, a variety of veterans, professional athletes, and private clientele.
My goal is to raise awareness and give clinicians and service members one more tool to better tackle veteran healthcare. If low testosterone and hormone imbalance is statistically at least as common as TBI/PTSD, it should be more regularly considered as a possible cause for many of the symptoms society is so eager to label as mental health disorders.
This article first appeared in The Havok Journal 17 August 2018.