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Mental trauma not as common as feared in troops

13th May 2010

A new study has found that mental disorders are not as common as feared among UK troops who have been to Afghanistan and Iraq.


However, while the study in The Lancet based on 10,000 personnel found that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) rates are low despite many deployments in foreign combat zones, alcohol misuse is a problem among UK troops.

The King's College research, which has been funded by the Ministry of Defence, said more emphasis should be placed on drinking problems than PTSD.

The study was headed by Dr Nicola Fear and Professor Simon Wessely.

They questioned regular personnel and reservists about their mental health and drinking habits and found the prevalence of PTSD was just 4% compared to US troops where cases were as high as 10-15%.

Overall 13% of those surveyed reported regularly drinking alcohol to excess, with those regulars who had been deployed more than 20% more likely to have problems.

Professor Wessely said the issue had to be treated with care as alcohol did play an important role in soldiers' lives in relieving anxiety and stress.

The charity Combat Stress, which helps veterans with PTSD, said it had seen a 66% increase in the number of new veterans seeking its help.

The Ministry of Defence said it took issues of problem drinking very seriously.

A spokesman said: "Individuals identified as being at risk from alcohol problems receive counselling and welfare support. This can include attendance on preventative early intervention programmes designed to alert them to the harm that alcohol can cause to themselves and others.”


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Article Information

Title: Mental trauma not as common as feared in troops
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 14861
Date Added: 13th May 2010


BBC News
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The Telegraph

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