PTSD, Depression Onset Latency in Injured Soldiers Studied
> 10/30/2006 11:13:58 AM

Researchers working at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland, have completed work on a new study that looks at the prevalence and nature of depression and PTSD in soldiers who have been seriously injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. 613 injured U.S. soldiers were screened at 1, 4 and 7 month intervals for both depression and post traumatic stress disorder. The data acquired from the soldiers who completed all three assessments showed that soldiers who at both 4 and 7 months, both depression and PTSD were much more prevalent than at 1 month. Nearly 80% of those who screened positive for either depression or PTSD at 7 months had previously screened negative at 1 month. Researchers also found that high levels of physical impairment from injury was significantly related to 7 month prevalence of PTSD and depression.

Speaking to Reuters, Dr. Thomas Grieger, the study's lead writer, had the following to say:"This study should help to guide physicians treating these troops," Grieger commented to Reuters Health. "They need to consider psychiatric problems in soldiers reporting high levels of physical problems."

"Soldiers with such problems acutely or chronically might benefit from a mental health evaluation and potential psychiatric treatments," he said. "The course of illness and treatment in war-injured soldiers from these conflicts is complex and unlike that seen in civilian victims of physical trauma."

This is some of the first strong evidence that links injury during armed combat directly to PTSD and depression. As Grieger notes, this data should only help the VA and armed service branches better monitor their soldiers, both the wounded and those who return unscathed. We now know the direct correlation between injury and PTSD and depression symptoms. It would be improper to ignore them. But we must also keep in mind the latency issues in play here. A mental health screening upon return to the US is not the be all end all. The VA and armed services need to continue to check in with soldiers, particularly those who have been wounded, and ensure that over-time, they receive the treatment they need to live a fruitful life in whatever direction they choose to go.

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