How often do soldiers returning after seeing combat in Iraq and Afghanistan develop mental disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder and depression?
A new study funded by the U.S. Army finds 8 to 14 percent of infantry soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan return seriously disabled by mental health problems. Between 23 and 31 percent return with some impairment.
About half the soldiers with either PTSD or depression also misused alchohol or had problems with aggressive behavior.
Psychiatrists from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research anonymously surveyed more than 18,000 soldiers who served in regular army units and the National Guard. The surveys were taken both 3 months and 12 months after their return from service abroad.
The researchers conclude that it's clear even a year after deployment, "many combat soldiers have not psychologically recovered." Because the time between deployment is often only a year to 18 months for active soldiers, a "sizable proportion" are likely returning to with lingering mental health issues.
The results appear in the current issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.