Rates of mental disorders much higher in soldiers, study says

soldiers welcome home.jpg

A series of three reports published in JAMA Psychiatry early this month reported the findings of the largest study of mental-health risk ever conducted among the U.S. military. The rates of many disorders, such as major depression, intermittent explosive disorder, post-traumatic stress (PTSD), and others, were far higher than in non-military populations.

Nearly a quarter (25%) of 5,500 active-duty, non-deployed Army soldiers surveyed tested positive for a mental disorder of some kind, with 11 percent of those positives having more than one illness. Nearly half of those diagnosed, however, had the disorder when they enlisted. These included primarily disorders such as attention deficit-hyperactivity (ADHD) and intermittent explosive disorder, matching patterns researchers have found in new military recruits.

Rates for some specific disorder include a five-times higher rate of major depression compared to civilians, six times higher for intermittent explosive disorder, and fifteen times higher rates of PTSD, according to the study. Study authors also noted that alcohol and drug use were common among soldiers with mental disorders.

Much of the study's data came from the Army's Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (STARRS) survey. The STARRS project was a collaboration between the U.S. Army and the National Institute of Mental Health. The authors hope their data can be used to further research and prevention of suicide within the ranks.


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