Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Delayed distress for US soldiers

A study of U.S. soldiers returning from the conflict in Iraq has found that it sometimes takes months for mental-health problems to develop meaning that there is the potential for many soldiers to go untreated if they are only assessed immediately on their return from battle. After initial findings that mental-health problems took a while to manifest themselves the U.S. Department of Defense started a second screening, to take place three to six months after the first one. A study of the first group of soldiers (88,235 people) to go through this system found that they reported more mental-health concerns such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depression or alcohol misuse during the second screening than at the first one with 4.4% being referred for mental-health treatment at the initial screening compared to 11.7% at the later one. Althogether 20.3% of active and 42.4% of reserve soldiers were identified as needing referral for mental-health problems. Concerns about interpersonal conflict increased fourfold between the two screenings and soldiers were much more likely to report PTSD symptoms at the second screening.

You can find out more about this research at

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