Third of million Afghan, Iraq war veterans are depressed

April 19th, 2008 - 1:59 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, April 19 (IANS) Nearly 20 percent of US servicemen back from Iraq and Afghanistan - or a third of a million - suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, but only half of them have sought treatment, according to a study by a US non-profit organisation. Researchers of the RAND Corporation also found that about 19 percent of these veterans reported experiencing a possible traumatic brain injury while deployed, with seven percent reporting both a probable brain injury and current major depression.

Many servicemen said they did not seek treatment for psychological illnesses because they feared it would harm their careers. Even among those who did seek help for severe depression, only about half received treatment that researchers consider “minimally adequate” for their illnesses.

In the first analysis of its kind, researchers estimate that post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression among returning military personnel will cost the US as much as $6.2 billion in the two years following deployment - an amount that includes both direct medical care and costs for lost productivity and suicide.

Investing in more high quality treatment could save close to $2 billion within two years by substantially reducing those indirect costs, the 500-page study concludes.

“There is a major health crisis facing those men who have served our nation in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Terri Tanielian, the project’s co-leader and a researcher at RAND.

The findings are from the first large-scale, nongovernmental assessment of the psychological and cognitive needs of military service members who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past six years. The RAND study is the first to comprehensively assess the current needs of returned service members from all branches of the military.

Since October 2001, about 1.6 million US troops have deployed in Iraq and Afghan wars, with many exposed to prolonged periods of combat-related stress or traumatic events.

Early evidence suggests that the psychological toll of the deployments may be disproportionately high compared with physical injuries.

The RAND study also estimates that about 320,000 service members may have experienced a traumatic brain injury during deployment - the term used to describe a range of injuries from mild concussions to severe penetrating head wounds. Just 43 percent reported ever being evaluated by a physician for that injury.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Health Science |