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Journal of Depression and Anxiety
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Research Article

Rates of Mental Disorders Among German Soldiers Deployed to Afghanistan: Increased Risk of PTSD or of Mental Disorders In General?

Hans-Ulrich Wittchen1*, Sabine Schönfeld1, Clemens Kirschbaum2, Sebastian Trautmann1, Christin Thurau1, Jens Siegert1, Michael Höfler1, Robin Hauffa3 and Peter Zimmermann3
1Institute of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy and Center of Epidemiology and Longitudinal Studies (CELOS), Technische Universitaet Dresden, Dresden, Germany
2Institute of Biological Psychology, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany
3Centre for Psychiatry and Posttraumatic Stress, Federal Armed Forces Hospital Berlin, Berlin, Germany
*Corresponding Author : Hans-Ulrich Wittchen
Institute of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy and CELOS
Chemnitzer Str. 46, 01187 Dresden, Germany
Tel: +49-351-463-39860
Fax: +49-351-463-39830
E-mail: [email protected]
Received July 05, 2013; Accepted July 27, 2013; Published August 01, 2013
Citation: Wittchen HU, Schönfeld S, Kirschbaum C, Trautmann S, Thurau C, et al. (2013) Rates of Mental Disorders Among German Soldiers Deployed to Afghanistan: Increased Risk of PTSD or of Mental Disorders In General? J Depress Anxiety 2:133. doi:10.4172/2167-1044.1000133
Copyright: © 2013 Wittchen HU, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Abstract

Background: Controversy exists regarding the prevalence of military mission-related PTSD and other mental disorders among deployed soldiers.

Methods: Based on a random stratified sample of n=1599 German soldiers (response rate (RR) 93%, n=1483), we assessed subjects 12 months after  deployment to Afghanistan and compared findings to controls of n=932 never deployed soldiers (RR: 95%, n=889). Interviews were conducted by trained  non-military clinical interviewers using the DSM-IV-TR-Composite International Diagnostic Interview  (CIDI-military). Outcome measures were 12-month prevalence and incidence of PTSD, anxietydepressive, substance use disorders and other DSM-IV-TR mental disorders.

Results: Deployed soldiers reported high rates of combat-related and other traumatic events. Compared to controls they had a higher 12-month incidence (OR: 4.3) and prevalence (OR: 2.4) of PTSD, anxiety (OR: 3.6, 1.4), and alcohol use disorders (OR: 3.5, 1.9). They also had higher rates of multiple diagnoses (MR: 1.72) and higher anxiety distress scores. Incidence of PTSD and other mental disorders were best predicted by prior lifetime mental disorders.

Conclusions: German soldiers deployed to Afghanistan are at increased risk of traumatic events and of mental disorders including PTSD as compared to never-deployed soldiers. The risk for other mental disorders subsequent to traumatic events such as anxiety, somatoform, and alcohol use disorders was substantially larger than the risk for PTSD. Prior mental disorders were found to be the strongest predictor of 12-month mental disorders and suggest that pre-mission psychopathological screening might be crucial to reduce mission-related mental health risks.

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