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High Rates of Psychiatric Disorders Found in the Wives of Deployed Soldiers

December 21, 2010

Active military deployment can be a stressful period for both the family member on active deployment as well as family members at home waiting for a safe return. Study of the mental health status of the spouses of active military personnel is relatively infrequent, however.

Alyssa Mansfield, PhD, and colleagues reviewed the electronic medical records of >250,000 female spouses of active duty Army personnel receiving outpatient care between 2003 and 2006. Of the wives studied, ~31% had husbands that were currently home, ~34% were stationed overseas from 1–11 months, and 35% were deployed for >12 months.

Mansfield and colleagues found higher rates of mental health diagnosis in the wives of soldiers who were deployed for >12 months compared to those deployed for shorter periods of time or still stationed at home.

The Table provides the adjusted analysis of wives whose husbands were not deployed and whose husbands were deployed from 1–11 months, compared to the wives whose husbands were deployed for >12 months. When converting the excess cases to potential patients, Mansfield and colleagues found that the 41.3 excess cases would attribute to 3,474 mental health diagnoses and the 60.7 excess cases would attribute 5,370 mental health diagnoses.

Although there are limitations to this study, Mansfield and colleagues believe that these data prove that treatment options and preventive measures need to be offered not only to returning soldiers but to all military family members. (N Eng J Med. 2010;362(2):168-170.) –Christopher Naccari

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From → Psychiatry

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