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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Study Looks at PTSD Risk Factors

National Guard troops who had some symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder but not enough to receive a diagnosis before deployment were more vulnerable to PTSD when exposed to combat trauma than other troops, according to a new study released at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting. Researchers found pre-deployment depression and alcohol dependence were not associated with an increased risk for PTSD.

The longitudinal study was scheduled for presentation Tuesday at the 164th American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting, which is in Honolulu May 14-18.

Researchers from the University of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey, surveyed National Guard Members before and after deployment and compared pre-deployment and post-deployment data for 922 Guard members. The researchers looked at symptoms like intrusive memories, hyperarousal, and avoidance of stimuli associated with a trauma as well as for symptoms of depression and alcohol dependence.

When any of the PTSD symptoms were present prior to deployment, Guard members were at higher risk for a new onset of PTSD after exposure to combat trauma. Guard members screening positive for two out of three components prior to deployment had higher risk than those screen positive for one.

Despite the fact that depression and alcohol dependence frequently found with PTSD, neither was a risk factor in the study.

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