Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is up to five times more likely to be developed by soldiers who had previous mental health issues, or had been previously injured during deployment, according to new research.
The new study looked at 22,630 U.S. service members who completed a standard questionnaire (which includes a PTSD measure) before deploying and one or more follow-up questionnaires during or after their service.
At the onset of the study, 3.3 percent of the soldiers had at least one psychiatric disorder, such as PTSD, depression, panic syndrome or another anxiety syndrome. Another 0.8 percent sustained a physical injury during deployment.
Follow-up questionnaires showed that just over 8 percent had PTSD symptoms after deployment.
Those who showed signs of PTSD at the start of the study had nearly five times the odds of developing PTSD after deployment.
Among those who experienced other mental health issues at the start of the study, the odds of post-deployment PTSD symptoms was 2.5 times more likely.
Further, the study found each three-unit increase in Injury Severity Score was associated with a 16.1 percent greater odds of having post-deployment PTSD symptoms.
The researchers concluded that psychiatric status was a stronger predictor than injury severity.
“The relationship between preinjury psychiatric status and postinjury PTSD is not well-understood because studies have used retrospective methods,” the authors wrote. “The primary objective of our study was to prospectively assess the relationship of self-reported preinjury psychiatric status and injury severity with PTSD among those deployed in support of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Information regarding deployment-related injuries was retrieved from the Joint Theater Trauma Registry (JTTR), a registry maintained by the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, and the Navy–Marine Corps Combat Trauma Registry Expeditionary Medical Encounter Database (CTR EMED). The study cohort included participants from all branches of the U.S. armed forces, including the Reserves and the National Guard.
The authors suggest that better pre-deployment screenings might help to better protect service members during their time in the field. Checking pre-deployment mental health, they conclude, “might be useful to identify a combination of characteristics of deployed military personnel that could predict those most vulnerable or, conversely, those most resilient to post-deployment PTSD, thereby providing an opportunity for the development of pre-deployment interventions that may mitigate post-deployment mental health morbidity.”
The study appears in the May issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.
Source: Archives of General Psychiatry