News From the Cause
Soldiers fail to seek PTSD treatment or drop out of therapy early, research find (Stars and Stripes)
May 20, 2012
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Roughly half of the soldiers who return from war with post-traumatic stress disorder don’t seek treatment, and many more drop out of therapy early, according to military research presented at last week’s American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting.
“Fewer than half of the soldiers who report symptoms of combat-related PTSD receive the care they need,” Maj. Gary H. Wynn, a research psychiatrist at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, said during a presentation to the association. “And of those soldiers who do start treatment, between 20 percent and 50 percent walk away before its completion.”
Army analysis of multiple studies suggests that most servicemembers have at least one experience during deployment that could lead to PTSD, and 15 percent of U.S. infantrymen who have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan have returned with the disorder, a condition characterized with such symptoms as depression, anger, mistrust, panic, guilt and violent behavior, physical pain, dizziness and trouble sleeping, Wynn said.
Experiences that can lead to PTSD include receiving incoming artillery, rocket or mortar fire, being attacked or ambushed or knowing someone seriously injured or killed, he said.
Despite these alarming findings, few servicemembers seek help, research shows. And there’s a common misperception that the military can simply order a servicemember to report for PTSD treatment, Wynn said in a phone interview Tuesday.
Military members retain the right to refuse psychiatric treatment or medication, unless they are a risk to themselves or others, he said, adding that it wouldn’t be good therapy to order people into care.
“You want them to be engaged and not feel forced,” he said.
The fact that today’s soldiers are professionals, rather than draftees, might also be a factor in their reluctance to engage in PTSD therapy, said retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. David Johnson, now executive director of the Center for Advanced Defense Studies in Washington, D.C.Click here to view more