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Veterans Returning From Iraq And Afghanistan At High Risk For Mental Health Disorders

March 18, 2017

Mental health diagnoses increased substantially after the start of the Iraq War among specific subgroups of returned veterans entering Veterans' Administration (VA) health care, reports a new study.

Researchers determined the prevalence and correlates of mental health diagnoses among 289,328 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans entering VA health care from 2002 to 2008 using national VA data. Of those, 106,726 veterans received mental health diagnoses, including 62,929 who were diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder and 50,432 who were diagnosed with depression. Women were at higher risk for depression than were men; yet men had over twice the risk for drug use disorders.

The researchers suggest, "Targeted screening and early intervention with evidence-based treatments tailored to the problems of particular subgroups of veterans may be the best defense against chronic mental health and social and occupational problems." [From: "Trends and Risk Factors for Mental Health Diagnoses Among Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Using Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care, 2002-2008."

American Journal of Public Health