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Fewer soldiers come home with PTSD


Ten years after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were begun, soldiers coming home with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are much lower than originally projected. A Harvard researcher credits the drop to new strategies by the Army to prevent PTSD. They are also providing the best treatment available to those who are identified as being at risk.

Richard J. McNally, Professor of Psychology, says that there is reason for cautious optimism. Early estimates suggested as many as 30 percent of troops might suffer from the devastating condition. Most current surveys are showing the actual numbers to be more like 2.1 to 13.8 percent, much lower. The most detailed study to date revealed that 4.3 percent of all American military personnel deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan developed PTSD, and 7.6 percent of those in combat did as well.

“As a society we’re much more aware of these issues than ever before,” McNally explained. “That is reflected by the fact that the military and the Veteran’s Administration ha established programs to ensure soldiers receive the best treatment possible. The title of my article is â€?Are We Winning the War Against Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?’ I think a provisional answer to that is, â€?Yes, we might be.’”

One reason may be that this war is less fatal than other wars. Fewer than 5,000 American troops have been killed compared to the 55,000 that died over a similar time period in Vietnam. New efforts to anticipate the effects of the disorder and treat soldiers as soon as possible may also be helping.

The projection for 30 percent with PTSD came from models based on the Vietnam experience.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Science

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