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New Canadian research suggests that soldiers who enter the military with a history of mental illness are at higher risk of post-traumatic stress disorder after a combat mission. The study was published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry and was based on post-deployment interviews with more than 16,000 Canadian Forces members who served in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2012.
The research found that 10.2 percent of those deployed to Afghanistan had at least one common mental health problem after returning, including depression and PTSD. A strong correlation was found between those who had previously been treated for mental health issues and post-deployment mental health problems like PTSD.
Similar research was conducted in the U.S. and had similar results. Though the risks are higher, the study's authors say in both the Canadian and U.S. publications, neither is compelling enough to make screening prior to enlistment a priority.
"Thus selecting people for deployment on this basis alone would result in the unnecessary exclusion of many people who would do well," the Canadian study's authors write. They suggested that people seen as high risk might be offered interventions to prevent relapse before, during and after deployment. "The strong correlation between current mental health care and post-deployment mental health problems simply demonstrates that people in care are there for a good reason."
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