According to a Dutch study, soldiers positioned in Afghanistan displayed an increase in the posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms after five years of their return. The soldiers were found to be affected by PTSD in the first few months of their return from Afghanistan. However, as per the study conducted at the Amsterdam’s VU University Medical Center, the symptoms returned after five years making it necessary for the screening of PTSD symptoms for at least a year or two after soldiers returned home.
Iris Eekhout, the lead author of the study, said that PTSD can emerge again in the following years and hence screening should continue for a couple of more years. According to Eekhout, the objective of the study was to find out the timing and the need for increased demand for PTSD treatment after deployment and to understand in detail the changes that have been coming in context with the PTSD complaints from soldiers with long-term deployment.
Veterans of Iraq War Struggle with PTSD Symptoms
The Department of Veteran Affairs said that in the U.S. alone, 11 to 20% Iraq war veterans’ complaint about PTSD symptoms every year. The symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, traumatizing events, fear, shame, guilt or hyper-alertness making it difficult to concentrate. While speaking to Reuters Health, Eekhout said that most of the studies only look at the short-term mental health problems with the veterans, with less focus on the effects caused due to long-term deployments.
Eehkout along with her colleagues at the university evaluated data of 1,007 soldiers positioned in Afghanistan between March 2005 and September 2008. Most of these soldiers were deployed for the first time in Afghanistan.
PTSD in Non-veterans Less Exposed
Another study carried out by the Brown University researchers say that non-veterans suffering from PTSD symptoms have lesser accesses to information and proper treatment options as compared to the soldiers. The study published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry says that non-veterans who are the victims of child abuse, sexual assault or natural disasters or any other non-military incidents have restricted access to helpful information and screening.