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Combat and war-zone soldiers are expected to have higher incidents of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A recent study by London, Ontario, researchers found Canadian peacekeepers suffer similar rates of PTSD to the combat and war-zone soldiers.

Psychiatrist J. Donald Richardson, professor Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Western Ontario, and his co-investigators, conducted a random national survey of more than 1,000 Canadian peacekeeping veterans with service related disabilities. Participants served with the Canadian Forces between 1990 – 1999, and were all under 65-years-old.

Expected rates of PTSD are 11% for those deployed once and 15% for those deployed more than once. What the researchers found was that one-third of veterans deployed more than once suffered probable clinical depression and those deployed one time were affected by a factor of 30%.

Researchers feel this is an important study because of the clinical implications of understanding risk factors can help predict potential psychiatric problems in veterans who have been deployed. The high rates of depression observed in deployed veterans can have a significant impact when they seek treatment for PTSD because depression must be aggressively treated to help patients respond more effectively to psychotherapy.

Veterans live and work in the community as civilians, therefore, the researchers feel, it is important that primary care physicians and psychiatrists become more knowledgeable about the emotional impact of military deployment and screen for possible PTSD.