PTSD in Combat Vs. Peacekeeping Veterans

Anxiety disorders are associated with impaired emotional well-being as much among peacekeeping veterans as among combat veterans.

According to study results recently published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry by University of Western Ontario researchers, anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are associated with impaired emotional well-being as much among peacekeeping veterans as among combat veterans. Although PTSD is often prevalent among military members who have served in combat and war zones, the disorder had been less studied among deployed peacekeeping veterans. Lead study author, Dr. J. Donald Richardson, consultant psychiatrist, Operational Stress Injury Clinic at Parkwood Hospital, St. Joseph's Health Care, London, and psychiatry professor, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Western Ontario, and colleagues found that peacekeepers are put into traumatic situations that they are unable to prevent due to United Nation rules of engagement that say soldiers have to practice restraint and neutrality. An important risk factor for PTSD is the feeling of lack of control over traumatic situations.

“This finding is important to clinicians working with the newer generation of veterans, as it stresses the importance of including measures of quality of life when evaluating veterans to better address their rehabilitation needs,” said Dr. Richardson. “It is not enough to measure symptom changes with treatment; we need to objectively asses if treatment is improving their quality of life and how they are functioning in their community.”

For more on PTSD and other mental health issues among Armed Forces, visit http://joiningforcesamerica.org, and look for an interview on the use of technology in the diagnosis and treatment of services members with PTSD, including information on what office-based psychiatrists can learn from this use of technology, in an upcoming issue of MDNG: Psychiatry Edition.