Veterans’ Mental Health Disorders Often Overlooked
Many Veterans with Sub–Threshold PTSD Going Untreated
Nationally, at least one in five military veterans who experience trauma are at a heightened risk for depression, suicide or substance abuse but are often overlooked in clinical settings because they don't fit the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a Yale University-led study, reports the Hartford Courant.
The research examined sub-threshold PTSD, which occurs when someone experiences trauma-related symptoms that aren't severe or long-lasting enough to warrant a PTSD diagnosis. The study, which included 1,484 veterans nationwide, found 8 percent were diagnosed with PTSD but more than 22 percent met criteria for sub-threshold PTSD. Also, in addition to 4.5 percent of veterans diagnosed with PTSD within the last month, 13 percent had sub-threshold symptoms, the study reported.
Veterans with sub-threshold PTSD had a 20 percent chance of suffering from major depression in their lifetimes, compared with about 4 percent of veterans without sub-threshold symptoms, the study found. And more than 12 percent of sub-threshold veterans reported having suicidal thoughts, compared with about 3 percent of those without the symptoms.
About 11 to 20 percent of veterans who fought in operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom suffer from PTSD in a given year, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD, and about 12 percent of Gulf War veterans have PTSD in a given year.
PTSD is marked by intrusive memories of a traumatic event, a pattern of avoiding people or things that spur those memories, increased negative thoughts and feelings, and symptoms of hyper-arousal such as increased anger, trouble sleeping and being easily startled. In order to get a PTSD diagnosis, all of those symptoms must be present, of a certain severity and duration, and cause significant functional impairment.