Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Subthreshold PTSD Affects More Than 8% of Older Veterans

More than 8% of older veterans have subthreshold posttraumatic stress disorder (clinically significant PTSD symptoms below the threshold for a diagnosis), a study in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry suggests.

Jennifer Moye, Ph.D., of the VA New England Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center and colleagues analyzed data from 3,001 U.S. veterans aged 60 years or older who participated in the National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study between November 2019 and March 2020. The veterans were assessed using the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5, the Life Events Checklist for DSM-5 (for trauma exposure), and other measures. The researchers collected demographic information from the participants (including age, gender, race/ethnicity, and education), as well as their history of trauma exposures; suicidal behaviors; psychiatric and substance use disorders; and mental, cognitive, and physical functioning.

Overall, 8.5% of veterans screened positive for subthreshold PTSD, and 1.7% screened positive for full PTSD. Furthermore, 92.7% of all veterans in the study reported exposure to one or more potentially traumatic events, and among those, 9.6% screened positive for subthreshold PTSD and 1.9% screened positive for full PTSD. The prevalence of both subthreshold and full PTSD was higher in women and those who used the VA as their main source of health care. Veterans with subthreshold PTSD were equally as likely as those with full PTSD to have psychiatric, cognitive, and physical comorbidities, including a history of suicide attempts and current suicidal ideation.

“Given that older veterans aged 55 to 74 are at the highest risk for dying by suicide, better recognition of both subthreshold and full PTSD may be an important component of suicide prevention efforts,” Moye and colleagues wrote.

“Subthreshold PTSD is associated with a comparable clinical and functional burden as full PTSD, thus underscoring the importance of assessing, monitoring, and treating both of these manifestations of PTSD symptoms in clinical settings,” the researchers concluded.

For related information, see the APA blog post to commemorate Veterans Day, “Technology Playing Role in Veterans’ Access to Mental Health Services.”

(Image: iStock/Im Yeongsik)

Help Push the 988 Crisis Hotline Over the Finish Line

A dedicated phone number for individuals in crisis or experiencing suicidal thoughts—988—goes into effect July 16, 2022, but many states are not prepared for its implementation, putting people’s lives at stake. Join APA and other coalition organizations for “REIMAGINE: A Week of Action to Reimagine Our National Response to People in Crisis” during the week of November 15 to learn about what needs to be done to ensure that the 988 crisis hotline is implemented across the nation. Free, virtual events will be held throughout the week; they will highlight personal stories and how to coordinate federal and state advocacy efforts to establish and fully fund a more effective crisis response. Register today and join in the effort to build a better, more equitable crisis system for all people in this country.



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