Poor Health Linked to PTSD Risk Among Vets

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Many studies have focused on combat exposure as the central source of risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Fewer studies have focused on other factors such as general deployment, family history of mental illness, community supports, and health status. The tragedy of this trend is that assuming PTSD risk is essentially derived from combat exposure could cause healthcare practitioners to overlook individuals that may be prone to PTSD and other stress related disorders pre-engagement. A study recently published online in BMJ drives this point home. According to the study’s findings, military personnel who had significant mental or physical problems before deployment possessed risk for PTSD two to three times greater than those that did not. More than half of the military personnel involved in the study diagnosed with PTSD ranked below the 15th percentile in physical or mental health at baseline. Data for the study was gathered from the Millennium Cohort Study, which collected health information on military personnel from 2001; the study’s authors procured data from the cohort between the dates of June 2004 and February 2006, sampling information from 5,410 combat veterans. The authors of the study commenting on the findings said, “We have identified an at-risk population whose functional health seems to predict vulnerability to PTSD after combat deployment… in theory, such a population could be targeted for PTSD prevention programs, early intervention after exposures to stress, or even protection from stressful exposures, when possible.” Click here to read an article from Modern Medicine that discusses this study more.

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