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Deployment Takes Toll on Army Wives
Date:1/13/2010

Spouses show higher rates of depression, anxiety, sleep disorders

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 13 (HealthDay News) -- War isn't just tough on soldiers. Army wives whose husbands were deployed have higher rates of depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and other mental health issues than the wives of soldiers who stayed home, a new study shows.

Researchers looked at the medical records of more than 250,000 wives, accounting for most women married to active-duty U.S. Army personnel.

Between 2003 and 2006, about 34 percent of the women's husbands deployed for one to 11 months, 35 percent deployed for longer than 11 months, while 31 percent of soldiers were not sent overseas.

Among wives of soldiers deployed for up to 11 months, researchers found almost 3,500 more diagnoses of depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and other mental health issues than among wives who husbands stayed home.

The more months a soldier was deployed, the greater the toll on his wife. Among the wives of soldiers gone for longer than 11 months during the four-year period, they found more than 5,300 additional diagnoses of mental health issues.

"The wives of soldiers who are deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan are experiencing greater mental health problems and have a greater need for mental health services," said study author Alyssa Mansfield, a research epidemiologist at RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C., who was at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, when she conducted the research. "We also found the longer the [soldier] was deployed, the more likely the spouse was to have a mental health diagnosis."

The study findings are published in the Jan. 14 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Kristin Henderson, the wife of a Navy chaplain who is serving in Afghanistan and author of While They're At War: The True Story of American Families on the Homefront, said the findings are not s
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