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One-Third of Veterans May Experience PTSD, Depression

Last Updated: June 08, 2010.

Up to a third of veterans returning from combat may experience depression or posttraumatic stress disorder, often along with alcohol misuse or aggressive behavior comorbidity, and the risk of developing dementia is nearly twice as high in veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder as in those without, according to the results of two studies published in the June issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

TUESDAY, June 8 (HealthDay News) -- Up to a third of veterans returning from combat may experience depression or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), often along with alcohol misuse or aggressive behavior comorbidity, and the risk of developing dementia is nearly twice as high in veterans with PTSD as in those without, according to the results of two studies published in the June issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Jeffrey L. Thomas, Ph.D., of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Md., and colleagues analyzed mental health surveys of 18,305 U.S. Army soldiers collected three and 12 months post-deployment between 2004 and 2007. They found rates of depression or PTSD with serious functional impairment ranged from 8.5 to 14 percent, and, with some impairment, from 23.2 to 31.1 percent. In about 50 percent of cases they found alcohol misuse or aggressive behavior comorbidity.

Kristine Yaffe, M.D., of the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues analyzed 53,155 and 127,938 veterans aged 55 and older with and without PTSD, respectively, from fiscal years 1997 to 2000. During the seven-year follow-up, 31,107 (17.2 percent) were newly diagnosed with dementia. The researchers found that the rate of dementia development over time was nearly twice as high in veterans with PTSD than in those without (hazard ratio, 1.77).

"Mechanisms linking these important disorders need to be identified with the hope of finding ways to reduce the increased risk of dementia associated with PTSD," Yaffe and colleagues conclude.

Four authors of the second article disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Abstract - Thomas
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Abstract - Yaffe
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