'Feel-good drug' Ecstasy one step closer to approval as PTSD treatment
SAN ANTONIO — The Iraqi interpreter wanted a ride in the Humvee after a long mission outside Baghdad in April 2007. Already crowded with armor-clad soldiers, Army Spc. Tony Macie told him he’d have to wait for more vehicles to return to Patrol Base Dog to pick him up.
No Humvees arrived, but a dump truck weighed down with explosives did. The detonation reduced the base to a pile of bricks. Survivors radioed: “broken arrow,” a distress signal for units in danger of being overrun by the enemy.
A mushroom cloud plumed overhead. Macie’s unit sped back to pull the dead and wounded out of the rubble. It took days. Two U.S. troops were killed, along with two interpreters — including the one Macie told to wait.
Did Macie kill him?
The question surged through Macie’s brain circuitry in the twin, almond-shaped amygdalae, which regulate emotions, memories and fear. His mind braced for an imminent attack as adrenaline flooded neural receptors nearly every day during his 14-month tour, and continued once he returned home.
“My brain wasn’t able to shut off. It was going a million miles a minute. You need it on a deployment. But it’s not normal at home,” said Macie, whose job as a forward observer for artillery strikes meant his mind would never stop processing where he and fellow soldiers were at all times.
Macie, now 29, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by the Army when he left in 2008 with a medical discharge following back injuries he sustained in Iraq. He was anxious and depressed and had trouble sleeping.
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