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Research Explains Why Some Soldiers don't suffer from PTSD

Update Date: Feb 23, 2013 02:38 PM EST

Although, witnessing trauma during combat can trigger Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in many men serving in war, current research shows that these men may already be vulnerable to the disorder due to childhood abuse of family history of drug use.

Post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a type of anxiety that affects a person after he or she has experienced a traumatic event that involved threat of injury or death, according to PubMed Health.

Soldiers and those exposed to war are at high risk of developing PTSD. In members of military, exposure to brain injuries increase the effects of PTSD, says NIH Medline Plus.

According to new study, certain pre-war vulnerabilities to PTSD like childhood abuse or mental disorders may predict the onset of PTSD in soldiers.

For the study, Bruce Dohrenwend and colleagues at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health and the New York State Psychiatric Institute examined data from a subgroup of 260 male veterans from the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study. All the male veterans studied in the present study had received a diagnosis for PTSD. The data even had information about PTSD diagnoses in these people after 11 to 12 years post-war, according to a press release.

Researchers focussed on three factors; first being exposure to traumatic events during war, which accounted for 98 percent of PTSD diagnosis; the second was exposure to stress during childhood or witnessing substance abuse by family members. The third factor examined byresearchers was the involvement of the soldiers in harming civilians.

When researchers analyzed the mental health of all soldiers in the study who had witnessed traumatic events during war, they found that just 31 percent developed any PTSD. Even in veterans with extreme exposure to violence, some 30 percent never experienced any PTSD.

Study analysis showed that among people who suffered from PTSD later in life, pre-war risk factors like abuse played a role in stress later in life. Also, people who joined war before age 25 years had higher risk of developing PTSD later, showing that age is also a factor in raising PTSD risk in people.

Inflicting harm on civilians or prisoners was also associated with PTSD in war veterans.

Researchers say that the study results show that some people may be more vulnerable to war -related trauma and can be kept out of the severely affected war-zone to prevent PTSD post-war.

The study is published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.

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