Shocking Discovery Suggests PTSD Treatment Dangerously Inadequate

Longer-term psychological support should be provided for returning war veterans, in order to minimize the risk of life-affecting  post traumatic stress disorder recurrence. That’s the warning issued by a team of experts from Holland, upon discovering that PTSD may in fact continue to pose a threat considerably longer than previously assumed.

Standard PTSD screening processes usually continue for around two years following the return of military personnel from overseas services, though the Dutch study found evidence of symptom recurrence after as long as five years.

“Our objective was to gain more insight in the changes in post traumatic stress complaints in a long-term period after deployment, ultimately to evaluate the timing of an increase in treatment demand after deployment,” Iris Eekhout of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, the study’s lead author, told Fox News.

Official figures from the Department of Veterans Affairs suggest that as many as one in five returning veterans show signs of PTSD every year in the United States. Characteristic PTSD symptoms include the inability to concentrate, hyper-sensitivity to sounds, overwhelming feelings of shame and guilt, constant fear, disorientation, nightmares and more.

Speaking with Reuters Health, Eekhout said that the vast majority of research into PTSD focused on the short-term, with few studies having considered the longer-term effects of the condition.

Shocking Discovery Suggests PTSD Treatment Dangerously Inadequate

For the purposes of the study, the medical histories of around 1,000 soldiers were analyzed over a five-year period. As expected, PTSD symptoms in those affected tended to undergo a significant spike in the initial six months following the individual’s return from service. But after then dropping back almost to normal levels over the subsequent year, a notable spike in symptom severity was once again noted after the five-year mark – a larger spike than at any other time.

Eekhout theorized that as military personnel return to normal life and no longer have the sense of safety that comes with serving as a military group, feelings of stress, anxiety and a perceived lack of safety may intensify over time.

“When over time the connection to a military group diminishes, resilience may wear off as well, contributing to a delayed stress response,” she said.

In order to minimize the potential long-term effects of PTSD, Eekhout insists that returning personnel should be more closely monitored and offered the required support for a much longer period of time than current standards.

“It is important to monitor their psychological health for a long time after deployment, because early detection of symptoms is essential to early treatment, which is related to positive outcome,” Eekhout added.