Members of the armed forces go through a battery of physical and psychological tests prior to serving. If they are deployed, they undergo even further testing upon return home. But in recent years the number of military suicides has increased concern with respect to the mental health of soldiers prior to and after deployment. Researchers have shown that certain conditions, in particular, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), put people at risk for mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. ACEs include physical abuse, neglect, emotional abuse, childhood sexual abuse, maltreatment, poverty, parental substance abuse, and parental conflict and divorce. Based on this knowledge, Jitender Sareen of the Department of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada wanted to see how ACEs affected the development of mood and anxiety problems in military personnel. Understanding how ACEs contribute to psychological problems could allow for screening of those most at risk for further mental health problems and suicidal behavior.
For the study, Sareen evaluated data from over 8,000 members of the Canadian Forces and looked at different types of childhood abuse, domestic violence, parental psychological issues, divorce, physical health of child, and foster care services utilized. Mental health conditions including PTSD, social phobia, depression, panic, and generalized anxiety were assessed as well. Sareen found that ACEs significantly increased the likelihood of anxiety or mood issues in the participants. Those participants who had been exposed to deployment-related trauma experiences (DRTEs) without a history of ACEs were at slightly lower risk of developing mental health problems. However, those who had experienced both ACEs and DRTEs were extremely vulnerable to both anxiety- and mood-related problems post deployment. These results give some clues as to which members of the military may be at greatest risk of psychological impairment and potential suicide. “These findings underscore the importance of considering ACEs in pre-deployment and post-deployment intervention strategies for soldiers,” said Sareen.
Sareen, J., et al. Adverse childhood experiences in relation to mood and anxiety disorders in a population-based sample of active military personnel. Psychological Medicine 43.1 (2013): 73-84. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 30 Jan. 2013
© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.