- CNN -
Up to 31 percent of soldiers returning from combat in Iraq experience depression or post-traumatic stress disorder that affects their jobs, relationships, or home life, according to a new study by Army researchers.
For as many as 14 percent of these veterans, depression and PTSD cause severe problems in their daily life. These problems are often accompanied by alcohol misuse and aggressive behavior, the study found.
"These things begin to snowball," says Robert Bossarte, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center, in Rochester, New York. "Your work performance suffers; you experience job loss and economic strain."
In extreme cases, the resulting relationship problems and stress can lead to suicide, adds Bossarte, who was not involved in the new study.
The researchers analyzed mental health surveys from more than 13,000 Army and National Guard infantrymen who fought in Iraq. The soldiers completed the surveys between 2004 and 2007, three and 12 months after returning to the U.S.
Between 9 percent and 14 percent of the soldiers were diagnosed with PTSD or depression resulting in serious impairment, while 23 percent to 31 percent were deemed to have some impairment. (The rates varied depending on the diagnostic criteria the researchers used.)