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PTSD Triples Among Military

soldierSelf-reported post-traumatic stress disorder has elevated 3-fold among combat-exposed military personnel since 2001, according to a study reported in the British Medical Journal.

In response to concerns on the health impact of military deployment, researchers in San Diego analyzed the effect of deployment on over 50,000 military personnel who were taking part in the Millennium Cohort Study (a large 22-year study of the health of US military personnel).

Prior studies have estimated as many as 30 percent of Vietnam War veterans developed post-traumatic stress disorder at some point following the war and, among 1991 Gulf War veterans, as many as 10 percent were reported to have post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms years after returning from deployment.

Baseline data were obtained between July 2001 and June 2003 (before the wars in Iraq and Afganistan) and participants were surveyed about their health three years later (June 2004 to February 2006).

Combat exposure was assessed and new onset post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms were measured using recognised criteria. Other information, such as cigarette smoking and problem alcohol drinking, was also recorded.

Over 40 percent of participants were deployed between 2001 and 2006; 24 percent deployed for the first time in support of the wars in Iraq and Afganistan between baseline and follow-up.

New onset post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms or diagnosis were reported by up to 87 per 1000 combat-deployed personnel and up to 21 per 1000 non-combat deployed personnel.

New onset symptoms were proportionately higher among participants who were female, divorced, enlisted, and in those who reported being a current smoker or problem drinker at baseline.

Persistent symptoms were found in 40-50 percent of participants who had post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms at baseline, suggesting that resolution of post-traumatic stress disorder may not be expected for several years.

These data show overall new incidence rates of 10 to 13 cases per 1000 person years and suggest a threefold increase in new onset self reported post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms or diagnosis among recently deployed military personnel with combat exposures, say the authors.

While the overall prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder in the military is not high, a substantial number of new cases can be expected based on the number of service personnel deployed and exposed to combat in the wars in Iraq and Afganistan.

Identifying personnel with symptoms early may lead to a smaller burden of the disorder in the years to come if appropriate and timely treatments are provided. Meanwhile, future research should include efforts to better understand the resiliency and vulnerability to post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms among combat deployers, they conclude.

Source: British Medical Journal

PTSD Triples Among Military

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). PTSD Triples Among Military. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 16, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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