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High price of war

American servicemen are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with psychic diseases, but seldom ask for medical treatment.
The soldiers who have gone through military operations, suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders, anxiety and depression, revealed the new research described by the HealthDayNews.
However, after return to the USA, they try to cope with the consequences of war on their own and do not ask specialists for help. The soldiers do not want to be labeled as people suffering from psychic diseases as this can ruin their careers.

The research results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. This is the most detailed study of the problem after the war in Vietnam.

Matthew Fridman, the professor of Medical School in Dartmut, wrote in the introduction to the research that the soldiers were surveyed when they still were at war. In addition, the psychologists questioned the US servicemen before they were sent to Iraq and Afghanistan. For this reason, the diseases obtained during the war could be traced, professor Fridman believes.

The researches conducted anonymous survey of 2,530 servicemen from 3 military units and 1 Marine corps before their leaving for Iraq. Later 3,671 soldiers were surveyed after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

15.6 - 17.1 percent of the soldiers who was in Iraq, complained about depression, anxiety, post-traumatic disorders. Those who returned from Afghanistan, had smaller complaints – only 11.2 percent. Among the soldiers who were about to be off for Iraq, only 9.3 percent had complaints. According to professor Fridman, the number of the soldiers with post-traumatic disorders can be increased.

Only 38-45 percent of the soldiers having psychic disorders, intend to ask for medical treatment.  

Professor Fridman is very frustrated that the soldiers are afraid to go to the psychiatrist as this can undermine their careers. “The people suffering most of all, ask for medical treatment more seldom than others. Meanwhile, they can receive real help immediately”, he says.

The psychologists are thinking how to “make” Iraqi war veterans go to the doctor. They think that the guarantees of confidentiality and positive atmosphere during the session with the doctor could improve the situation.

The doctors are glad that the servicemen understand the need of the research of this kind and participate in it, although anonymously. During the Vietnamese war  the soldiers did not do this.

According to the psychologists, the real problems of the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan can be much harder. Nobody knows for sure what real price the USA has paid for sending its soldiers to fight international terrorism.

Sergey Borisov