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U.S. Soldiers Face Host of Mental Health Issues
Date:1/25/2012

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. military personnel and veterans are plagued by substance abuse, depression and suicide, three new studies indicate.

In one study, researchers surveyed nearly 600 veterans returning from war zone deployment in Iraq or Afghanistan, and found that they were at increased risk for mental health problems and alcohol and drug abuse.

Nearly 14 percent of the veterans screened positive for probable post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 39 percent for probable alcohol abuse, and 3 percent for probable drug use. Men reported more alcohol and drug use than women, but there were no gender differences in PTSD or other mental health conditions.

Veterans returning from Iraq reported more depression or functioning problems and more alcohol and drug use than those returning from Afghanistan. Army and Marine veterans reported worse mental and physical health than Air Force or Navy veterans.

The studies were published online Jan. 25 in the American Journal of Public Health and are scheduled to appear in the March supplement print issue of the journal.

In the second study, researchers found that major depression and substance use disorders have increased among active duty combat-exposed veterans. The finding comes from an analysis of data from 678,382 active personnel serving between 2001 and 2006.

Those who were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan were more likely to be diagnosed with major depression or substance abuse than non-deployed personnel. Army and Marine Corps personnel were more likely to be diagnosed with the conditions than Navy and Air Force personnel.

"Our study provided valuable insight for the mental health readiness of the U.S. armed services and implications for potential, continued support of ongoing operations and their post-deployment health care needs," the researchers wrote in a journal news release.

"Given the continuing U.S. military pre
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