War Veterans with Depression or Anxiety More Likely to Develop PTSD
A study published in the May edition of Archives of General Psychiatry found that veterans who had reported pre-existing mental health issues were more likely to develop symptoms of PTSD post-deployment. This study has broad implications with regard to military recruitment policy and benefits approval.
I have worked with several hundred veterans in the years I've been a professional social worker, some service connected, others not, some war veterans, and some who served in peace time. One thing they all have in common is that the experience of being a soldier changed them in important ways. Another thing they all have in common is that what they brought into the military was amplified by their experiences in the military, especially if they saw combat.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that can be moderately disabling all the way to severely disabiling. One of the defining characteristics of PTSD is that its onset can be traced back to either a single incident of severe crisis, or a pervasive atmosphere of severe crisis, during which the person with PTSD had a sincere fear for his or her safety.
I'm not sure how I feel about this new research. It really is what is called “confirmatory” research, which means that most professionals have observed that people with PTSD often have pre-existing conditions, and this study confirmed their suspicions. On this level, the study is pretty neutral in its impact. Most professionals who read the study will think “of course” to themselves, and go back to work.
However, when the implications of this study are applied to veterans who are applying for benefits, the situation gets murky. One potential problem is that one of the criteria for obtaining service connected medical and financial benefits is that any condition that causes disability must have its origin during the time the veteran served in the active military.Continued on the next page