In the first analysis of its kind to study military service personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the RAND Corporation has found:
- Nearly 20% of returning Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers (300K) report PTSD or major depression.
- Many service members failed to report PTSD or major depression fearing it would damage their career.
- Service members fail to seek treatment because they fear side effects of medication or believe family and friends are more beneficial than mental health professionals.
- Approximately 50% of service members reporting PTSD or major depression received even the minimally adequate treatment for their symptoms.
- 19% reported a possible traumatic brain injury while deployed.
- 7% reported both a probable brain injury and PTSD or major depression.
- As much as $6.2 billion is the expected cost for treatment of PTSD and depression for 2 years following return from deployment (includes both direct medical care cost, lost productivity, and suicide.)
- High-quality treatment could save close to $2 billion within 2 years.
- 45% report witnessing either dead or seriously injured non-combatants.
- Over 10% received injuries that required hospitalization.
- PTSD and major depression rates were highest among Army and Marine soldiers who were no longer on active duty.
- Women, Hispanics, and enlisted personnel were more likely to report symptoms.
- Exposure to combat was the single best predictor of PTSD and depression.
This is the first non-governmental assessment of the psychological and cognitive needs of military personnel who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 6 years.
PTSD and major depression, if left untreated or under treated, has serious cascading consequences. Primarily, drug use, suicide, marital problems, and unemployment.
Researchers believe that the stigma of the cultural barriers toward institutional mental health need to be removed. In the current culture seeking mental health treatment is often viewed as sign of weakness. Treatment is most effective when sought early.