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The effects of PTSD in Operation Iraqi Freedom military service members, civilians, and their families
Amin et al. explore the high correlation between war-related illness and post-traumatic stress and draw upon similar research (conducted during the Gulf War) for inspiration and direction. War-related illness was conceived as a term for the disabling levels of fatigue, insomnia, concentration problems, and general bodily aches. Of the more than 650 respondents, only 15-20 returnees had pre-existing complaints, but 190-197 exhibited one (or more) war-related illness(es) after deployment. The authors did admit that the limitations of trying to separate the influence of post-traumatic stress from the body’s natural responses to the trauma itself. One step further, Amin et al. began to connect the level of brain injury with post-traumatic stress.
Barber, Jessica, Laura Bayer, Robert H. Pietrzak, and Kathryn A. Sanders. 2011. "Assessment of Rates of Overweight and Obesity and Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Depression in a Sample of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom Veterans." Military Medicine 176, no. 2: 151-155. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed August 16, 2011).
One of the lesser-known symptoms commonly researched in connection with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) obesity and related health problems affect every facet of the body’s operations as it limits the flow of blood to the brain, muscles, heart, etc. The authors recognize that inborn factors can produce such a correlation but remain confident that PTSD can cause veterans to develop a depression which literally feeds obesity. Chronic issues are likewise linked to poorer self-reported levels of quality of life. Because of genetic factors, it is difficult to say which factors would not have occurred naturally, but this study at least shows that PTSD accelerates that process.
Polusny, Melissa A., Christopher R. Erbes, Paul A. Arbisi, Paul Thuras, Shannon M. Kehle, Michael Rath, Cora Courage, Madhavi K. Reddy, and Courtney Duffy. 2009. "Impact of Prior Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom Combat Duty on Mental Health in a Predeployment Cohort of National Guard Soldiers." Military Medicine 174, no. 4: 353-357. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed August 16, 2011).
Polusny et al. investigate the predeployment mental health of Operation Iraqi Freedom combatants who might already be experiencing cumulative trauma. Nation Guard Reserve soldiers experienced a dramatically higher rate of PTSD development over time (about a year). There are still many contradictions in the research of returning veterans’ psychological and somatic responses. Interestingly, the military experience of some veterans was thought to predispose them- or contribute- to the development of PTSD. This study specifically clarified these elements and also examined factors for risk and resilience. Taken entirely from one combat team, the study can hardly be counted as comprehensive (or equally distributed) but does provide a very focused, unbiased examination of a broad issue and includes males and females. This study also utilized more credible resources: the Deployment Risk and Resilience Inventory, the PTSD Checklist, and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). The social support within the unit was a large contributor to resilience in both prior-deployed and first-time veterans.
Hirsch, Kenneth A. 2009. "Sexual Dysfunction in Male Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom Patients With Severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder." Military Medicine 174, no. 5: 520-522. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed August 17, 2011).
Kenneth Hirsch reports that, although sexual dysfunction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been loosely associated with each other, past studies have used parameters which are too broad and have not studied the Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans at all. Even to someone without extensive medical background, this argument for new research identifies a true need. The clinical data was drawn from a residential PTSD treatment facility which treated veterans primarily from the Army, Air Force, and Marines over a year’s time. Hirsch set specific parameters of his own for less interference, designating that decreased libido must also indicate a decrease in the desire to masturbate. Many reported having flashbacks or unwittingly being more violent during sexual relations. A heightened anger-hostility score may be responsible for further decreases in intimacy, presenting a residual and worsening problem which often requires treatment, education, and/ or intervention.
Rosenthal, Joshua Z., Sarina Grosswald, Richard Ross, and Norman Rosenthal. 2011. "Effects of Transcendental Meditation in Veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Pilot Study." Military Medicine 176, no. 6: 626-630. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed August 16, 2011).
Since much of the research agrees that even minor war-related injuries can have debilitating long-term effects, Rosenthal et al. respond with this study of an inexpensive, non-intrusive form of self- treatment. PTSD often presents difficulties with hyperarousal, aggression, and focus- all of which are central tenets in the practice of transcendental meditation. Through this behavioral and mental intervention, Rosenthal et al. hope to provide a viable option for returning OIF veterans. All volunteers who completed the 8-week, 20 minutes-per-day regimen showed marked improvement. This study was uncontrolled and studied a very small number of veterans and is really more of a jumping-off point for further research in the future.