Findings showed that 95% of the respondents' overall health status was slightly higher compared to that of the general U.S. population of the same age and sex. Factors identified with the favorable health status were male gender, married state, higher educational attainment, higher military rank and inclusion in the Air Force service. Lower quality of health was associated with increased use of health care, PTSD, disability, behavioral risk factors and death. The study also found that deployment experiences from 1998-2001 did not reduce favorable health status (Smith et al.).
The findings go against the reported poor health status of returning veterans, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan (Smith et al., 2004). They suggest a mentally and physically healthier military population that the general population. The outcomes of the study will be useful in evaluating health after deployment in a large, population-based military cohort (Smith et al.).
Mild Head Trauma and Chronic Headache
While these complaints are common among service members deployed to Iraq, there was a previous lack of systematic studies into those returning from Iraq (Theeler & Erickson, 2009). This retrospective cohort study of 81 such returning veterans was a response to the lack. It found that 41% of them had a history of head or neck trauma while deployed in Iraq. Others had concussion with or without loss of consciousness and accompanying traumatic neck injury. None of the complaints led to moderate or severe traumatic brain injury. The most common cause was exposure to blasts, 67% of which led to head and neck injuries. Most of the headaches started within a week from trauma and some of them said the headaches made pre-existing headaches worse. The headaches were of the migraine type in 78% of the respondents. This type, the frequency, duration and resulting disability were found to be similar in those with or without a history of head or neck trauma. The headaches were also found similar to non-traumatic headaches reported at a military specialty clinic (Theeler & Erickson).
Fibromyalgia Pain, a Prime Suspect
Fibromyalgia pain is another suspicious condition linked to PTSD. Fibromyalgia
Syndrome or FMS is a chronic pain condition of unknown origin (Staud, 2004). It is characterized by diffuse pain and tenderness for more than 3 months. Most of those stricken are women who complain of insomnia, fatigue and psychological distress. Systemic illnesses sometimes co-occur with FMS, such as polymyalgia rheumatica, rheumatic arthritis, inflammatory myopathies, systemic lupus erythematosus, and joint hypermobility syndrome. Diseases like hepatitis C, Lyme disease, coxsackie B. infection, HIV and parvovirus infection are said trigger FMS. About half of patients say the chronic syndrome starts after a traumatic event (Staud), hence, its connection with PTSD.
Research showed that more than half of all patients with FMS suffer from PTSD in the U.S. And Israel (Staud, 2004). FMS patients presented similarly increased rates to veterans in Vietnam and other war zones. FMS typically occurs after a severe traumatic event and accompanied by behavioral, emotional, function and physiologic symptoms. They relate similar threatening traumatic experiences and emotional responses of horror, helplessness or intense fear. PTSD symptoms include a re-experience of some traumatic event, avoidance and increased arousal. The trauma is associated with increased body and physical complaint, including pain. Research demonstrated that the incidence of FMS increased in 21% of PTSD cases studied and, consequently, also increased distress and functional impairment. Evidence has, however, still to prove that PTSD either causes or brings about FMS. The closest to do this to-date was the evidence provided by prospective studies of adults with neck injuries, which suggested that those with PTSD had a 10 times increased risk of developing FMS within a year from their injury (Staud).
Women as Partner-Victims of Violence in PTSD
An ethnically varied sample of 157 abused women from crisis shelters and the community presented symptoms of intimate partner violence or IPV and symptoms of physical health and PTSD disorder (Woods et al., 2009). These included detailed physical symptoms for which women in intimate abusive relationships sought health care; the connection of the symptoms to IPV and PTSD; and the unique predictors of physical health symptoms. The respondents had an average age of 33+, were in an abusive relationship for more than 5 years and experienced any or all of the four groups of physical health symptoms. These symptoms were grouped into neuromuscular, stress, sleep and gynecologic symptoms. Respondents who experienced more severe IPV reported stronger physical health and PTSD symptoms. These are avoidance and threats of violence or risk of homicide for which 75% of the women sought treatment in the last 6 months. About half of them were African-American and half were white (Woods et al.).
The findings were consistent with the allostasis and allostatic load perspective (Woods et al., 2009). The perspective holds that all types of IPV are associated with greater physical health and PTSD symptoms. The findings support those of previous research on the broad range of symptoms experienced by battered women. The symptoms reported by the present study's respondents were vague and nonspecific. Among these were low back pain, fatigue, muscle weakness, pounding heartbeats, lightheadedness, stomach cramps, and sleep difficulties. The avoidance symptom was the most indicative of PTSD. Those who experience trauma or PTSD are more likely to seek health car in primary care settings (Woods et al.).
Effects on Children
A study conducted with 154 veterans with war-related PTSD found that the disorder asserts a strong and complex influence over the development of their children (Klaric et al., 2008). The influence shows at different ages and can be long-lasting in their children's bio-psychological functioning and personality. It recommended the creation of strategies for preventing and treating traumatized families (Klaric et al.).
A family member with PTSD has a strong chance of negatively influencing other family members and damaging family solidarity and life (Klaric et al., 2008). This is especially likely to children who are the most vulnerable members of the family. Many previous studies have shown that children of combat veterans with PTSD incurred more frequent and serious developmental, behavioral, and emotional problems than those without PTSD. These affected children developed problems with authority, depression, anger, hyperactivity and flaws in personal relationships. They were also more aggressive, used opiate drugs, had learning difficulties and difficulties regulating their own emotions. The study also suggested that direct war experience could reduce the veterans' capacity to function properly as parents and this could lead to the difficulties in the development and behavior of their children (Klaric et al.).
An earlier investigation showed a strong influence of veterans' PTSD in Vietnam, Korea and World War I on their children's developmental problems (Klaric et al., 2008). Researcher believed that children may react to their parents' disturbed emotional states and behavior and develop symptomatic disorders themselves. These reactions may be exaggerated crying, overeating, psycho-physiological instability, hyperactivity or apathy and delayed development. It has also been observed that children react more to parental distress than to real danger. They may also develop a kind of secondary traumatic stress. This makes parental reactions play an important role as model of children's behavior on how to cope with stress (Klaric et al.).
The respondent-veterans in this present study belonged mostly to lower economic status, were unemployed, and chronically ill (Klaric et al., 2008). Chronic illness is another source of difficulty and stress for the whole family. The collective crises deriving from the veteran-father's PTSD negatively influence the development and functioning of his children. A role-model player like the father cannot provide a strong attachment to his children, who need it as a safe emotional base in their delicate development and in coping with stress and distress themselves. The veteran with PTSD is prevented by his unsolved stresses from paying attention to his family members' needs. Hyperarousal destroys trust. His unresolved sadness and fear of another loss prevent him from establishing that needed attachment with his children. Instead, aggression and poor anger management lead to rage, outbursts, anger, hostility and even violence and abuse of children as family members avoid provoking the ailing veteran (Klaric et al.).
A six-month follow-up cohort study on the extended use of the hypno-sedative zopiclone filled the need for the lack of such detailed research for combat-related PTSD (Alderman & Gilbert, 2009). Zopiclone is an approach to sleep disturbances. A convenience sample 26 combat veterans with PTSD were asked to use the hypno-sedative for 6 months and subjected to psychometric and sleep assessments. Results showed that, during the follow-up after six months of study, the respondents continued to use zopiclone on a regular basis and for an extended period. Its efficacy in addressing sleep disturbance was low. The study concluded that zopiclone may not increase risk for dependence (Alderman & Gilbert).
The National Center for PTSD follows guidelines in extending care to PTSD
Veterans (Ruzek et al., 2007). These are to connect with the returning veteran, connect him with other returning veterans, provide practical help for his specific problem, and respond to his broad needs as a…