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Aug 08, 2013 09:33 AM EDT

Combat Soldiers Most Affected By Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Study

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Soldiers who were deployed in the Middle East and had served in combat roles are likely to suffer from psychological trauma, according to a Defense Force study that looked into the health of more than 14,000 soldiers.

The study, released Thursday, claims that soldiers involved in bomb disposal and greater combat exposure in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq, are at a greater risk of suffering from subsequent mental health problems including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

In the recent past, PTSD has been considered the primary health concern for military veterans. Around 15 to 20 per cent of them return home with some form of PTSD.

The study discovered the highest rates of PTSD symptoms among veterans who were out of defense force for a period of two to three years.

"These findings covered PTSD symptoms, major depressive syndrome, panic and other anxiety syndromes, and alcohol misuse," the report stated, and found "greater combat exposure does lead to greater risk of subsequent mental health problems, including PTSD."

American medical centers are estimated to be filled with traumatized combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, mainly from the latter as troops prepare to hand over the operations to Afghan soldiers in the war stricken country.

The researchers conducted a health study on 3074 defense members who served in the Middle East in the period 2010-12. They found that, 1.9 per cent of the soldiers had reported PTSD symptoms after their service. They also noticed higher rates of obesity and alcohol disorder in these men.

"Symptoms of PTSD and other mental health problems were more prevalent among members who reported high levels of traumatic and combat exposures," it said.

Veterans on the bomb disposal squad reported the highest level of trauma and combat exposure.

"The study shows while you remain in the ADF, you remain pretty healthy. There is about seven times the rate of PTSD symptoms among those no longer in the reserve and those who no longer have a relationship (with defence)," said Rear Admiral Robyn Walker, Director-general of defence health.

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