Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Readjustment Stressors Prompt Vets to Seek PTSD Care

Since it has been a major battle to convince combat veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to get mental health care, and with the military's suicide rate soaring to record levels, researchers decided to study veterans who did in fact seek such care to discover what factors propelled them to do so.

What they found was that the stressors of readjusting to civilian life had more of an impact on care seeking than did the presence of PTSD symptoms. Alejandro Interian, Ph.D., and colleagues of UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the Veterans Affairs New Jersey Health Care System surveyed 157 soldiers three months after returning from combat in Iraq to assess adjustment stressors and mental health care use. About 72% had at least one readjustment stressor, most relating to family and occupational responsibilities, and these stressors were related to higher rates of treatment seeking, according to a report of the study in the September Psychiatric Services. This finding led the researchers to conclude that not only are readjustment stressors common among combat vets, but they appear to be "more predictive than PTSD symptom levels in treatment seeking." Two other studies in that issue of Psychiatric Services also deal with service members' use of mental health care.

Read more about PTSD in veterans and active-duty military in Psychiatric News here and here.

(image: Straight 8 Photography/Shutterstock.com)