BACKGROUND: Gulf War veterans reported multiple psychological symptoms immediately after the war; the temporal course of these symptoms remains unclear. AIMS: To assess the prevalence of war era onset mental disorders in US veterans deployed to the Gulf War and in non-deployed veterans 10 years after the war. METHOD: Mental disorders were diagnosed using structured clinical interviews. Standard questionnaires assessed symptoms and quality of life. RESULTS: Gulf War-era onset mental disorders were more prevalent in deployed veterans (18.1%, n=1061) compared with non-deployed veterans (8.9%, n=1128). The prevalence of depression and anxiety declined 10 years later in both groups, but remained higher in the deployed group, who also reported more symptoms and a lower quality of life than the non-deployed group. Remission of depression may be related to the presence of comorbid psychiatric disorders and level of education. Remission of anxiety was related to treatment with medication. CONCLUSIONS: Gulf War deployment was associated with an increased prevalence of mental disorders, psychological symptoms and a lower quality of life beginning during the war and persisting at a lower rate 10 years later.
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