Mental health of US Gulf War veterans 10 years after the war

  • Toomey R
  • Kang H
  • Karlinsky J
 et al. 
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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.

Author-supplied keywords

  • *Gulf War
  • Adult
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders/drug therapy/*epidemiology/etiolo
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales/statistics & nume
  • Psychotropic Drugs
  • Quality of Life/psychology
  • United States/epidemiology
  • Veterans/*psychology

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  • R Toomey

  • H K Kang

  • J Karlinsky

  • D G Baker

  • J J Vasterling

  • R Alpern

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