Military Personnel With Mental Woes Before Deployment at
Higher PTSD Risk05/03/11
TUESDAY, May 3 (HealthDay News) -- Military personnel who have a
psychiatric disorder prior to deployment or who've been injured
during combat are more likely to develop post-traumatic stress
disorder (PTSD) after they return home.
The PTSD tends to be worse with more serious injuries, according
to a study in the May issue of the
Archives of General Psychiatry.
The findings may help identify people who are more vulnerable to
the disorder, the researchers noted.
"The more you know about a person, the better off you'll be to address their needs" through interventions and treatments, added Robert Bossarte, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center, who was not involved with the study.
For this study, researchers had data on the mental health of
nearly 23,000 servicemen and women prior to their deployment to
Iraq or Afghanistan.
Before they were deployed, 739 -- or 3.3 percent -- had at least
one psychiatric disorder, including PTSD, depression, panic
syndrome or another anxiety syndrome. About 0.8 percent were
injured while deployed.
After deployment, a follow-up questionnaire found that about 8
percent had symptoms of PTSD.
The study found that men and women who had one or more mental
health disorders prior to deployment were 2.5 times more likely to
develop post-deployment PTSD.
Those who had symptoms of PTSD before deployment had almost five
times the chance of having PTSD afterward.
Those with more severe injuries were also more likely to have
PTSD, although prior mental health was more strongly associated
with later PTSD, researchers said.
Researchers also found that PTSD tended to develop more than six
months after the injury, indicating that military personnel should
be monitored for signs of the disorder over the long-term, not just
immediately after the incident.
The findings suggest that pre-deployment mental health
questionnaires could identify those who are either at risk of
development PTSD or most likely to be resistant to it, said study
co-author Cynthia A. LeardMann, a senior biostatistician with the
Henry M. Jackson Foundation at the Naval Health Research Center in
One strength of this study is that researchers had information
about participants' pre-deployment mental health, said Keith Young,
vice chair for research of psychiatry and behavioral science at
Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine.
Although women in this study had a 27.6 percent higher chance of
developing PTSD after an injury than men, Young said that's not
much of a difference.
"There had been an idea that women were tremendously more likely to get PTSD but we have had data including this paper that's showing that's really not true," said Young, who is also core leader for neuroimaging and genetics at the Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans in Temple.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has more on
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