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研究表明,老兵医院的三分之一伊拉克和阿富汗

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根据今天发布的一项研究,从伊拉克战争和阿富汗战争归来之后,超过三分之一的在老兵医院接受治疗的老兵被诊断有心理健康问题—包括创伤后压力心理障碍症、抑郁症和酒精中毒。

研究者们追踪了将近300000名归来的老兵,证实了很多部队官员的猜测:士兵们寻求从抑郁到婚姻问题的每一件事的帮助,这样的士兵数目一直很高。

根据公共健康网站美国日报发布的研究,将近37%在全国性老兵医疗中心首次接受治疗的老兵正在经历心里健康问题的痛苦。

研究者们说,将近22%的被研究的士兵患有创伤后压力心理障碍症。另外17%的士兵被诊断患有抑郁症,7%的士兵有酒精问题,3%的士兵有吸毒问题。

“真正让人震惊的是,在2003年3月20日伊拉克冲突开始之后,心里健康诊断急剧增加,特别是创伤后压力心理障碍症,”凯伦-希尔说,他是研究的首席作者,并且是旧金山老兵医疗中心的全职医生。

旧金山的加州大学做了这份研究,旧金山的老兵医疗中心追踪了289328名老兵,这些老兵在2002年到2008年期间都是首次向老兵医疗机构寻求帮助。

希尔表示,研究最大的发现就是归来老兵患有心理健康、个人或是家庭问题的绝对数量。

研究发现,超过三分之一归来的士兵有心理健康问题,包括创伤后压力心理障碍症和抑郁症。希尔说,当你加上一些其他个人事件,包括家庭暴力、失业和无家可归,报道问题的老兵的数量就上升到百分之四十三。

研究者们说,心理健康诊断急剧增加可能有很多原因,包括增加的请求帮助的士兵的数量。

越战以后,10%的士兵使用了老兵健康系统。研究显示,今天有创纪录的40%的老兵正在寻求医疗帮助。

研究者们说,被诊断有心理健康问题的士兵数量多,也有可能是因为医生更加理解心理健康问题。

创伤后压力心理障碍症同样是一项新诊断。严重的紧张障碍—受害人可能反复再发生创伤事件,睡眠困难或是离开朋友和家人—最早在20世纪80年代有临床诊断,希尔说。研究者们说,和从越战归来的参照士兵不同,今天的老兵更容易被筛选出患有创伤后压力心理障碍症。

“临床医师们更加警觉,也更习惯于创伤后压力心理障碍症诊断的可能性,”希尔说。

“最重要的事情就是确保每一个个体服务人员在回家的时候做一次检查,”保罗-沙利文说,他是老兵常识的负责人,老兵常识为一家非营利机构,支持改善老兵的设施。

沙利文的团队呼吁部队加强1997年部队健康保护行动,该行动命令对所有士兵进行健康检查。虽然该行动在十多年前已经成为法律,但是它还没有被执行。

“如果每个人回家的时候接受检查,就不会有污点,”沙利文说,“做检查需要有责任高度—疏忽大意检查就会失败。”

新的研究表明,士兵的年龄可能影响他控制战争的压力。

研究表明,与旧的军队相比,25岁以下在服役的士兵有双倍可能患有创伤后压力心理障碍症,并且有五倍得毒品问题的可能。但是,40岁以上的国民警卫和预备役的老兵有最高的风险患有创伤后压力心理障碍症和抑郁症。

研究还发现,女性士兵比男性更容易得抑郁症。但是男性士兵有双倍可能产生吸毒问题。

部队老兵布莱恩-亚当斯说,在13个月的伊拉克行程最后,在2005年他在德国接受了心理健康问题检查。

一位穿着白色实验室衣服的女士问他是否需要心理健康帮助,他当时坐在一间开着们的小隔间,可以听见同伴们正准备回家。亚当斯退缩了。他听到过流言,说部队会扣留寻找帮助的士兵额外六个月。

“我只是想离开那个鬼地方,”27岁的亚当斯说,来自巴尔米拉。

一年半以后,他去老兵医院寻求帮助,很多个月他感觉被孤立、抑郁并且紧张。他被诊断患有创伤后压力心理障碍症。

亚当斯是拉特杰斯大学的学生,现在和美国团队的伊拉克和阿富汗老兵们一起工作,唤醒人们对创伤后压力心理障碍症的意识。

“当我看到我的很多朋友,我看到他们有很多症状,”亚当斯说。“我试着和他们谈话,告诉他们去老兵医院。”

译文:Study says 1/3 of Iraq, Afghanistan veterans at VA hospitals have mental health problems

More than a third of veterans treated at Veterans Affairs hospitals were diagnosed with mental health problems -- including post-traumatic stress, depression and alcoholism -- after returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, according to a study released today.

Researchers who tracked nearly 300,000 returning veterans confirmed what many military officials have suspected: The number of soldiers seeking help for everything from depression to marital problems is at an all time high.

Nearly 37 percent of those treated nationwide at Veterans Affairs medical centers for the first time were suffering from mental health problems, according to the study published on the American Journal of Public Health website.

Nearly 22 percent of the soldiers studied were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, researchers said. Another 17 percent were diagnosed with depression, 7 percent had alcohol problems and 3 percent had drug problems.

"What's really striking is the dramatic acceleration in mental health diagnoses, particularly PTSD, after the beginning of the conflict in Iraq on March 20, 2003," says Karen Seal, the study's lead author, and a staff physician at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The study by the University of California at San Francisco and the San Francisco VA Medical Center tracked all 289,328 veterans who sought help at Veterans Affairs medical centers for the first time between 2002 and 2008.

Seal said the study's most dramatic finding was the sheer number of returning veterans with mental health, personal or family problems.

The study found more than a third of returning soldiers had mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. When you add in other personal issues -- including domestic violence, unemployment and homelessness -- the number of veterans reporting problems jumps to 43 percent, Seal said.

Researchers said the dramatic jump in mental health diagnoses may be due to several factors, including the growing number of soldiers asking for help.

After the Vietnam War, 10 percent of veterans used the Veterans Affairs health system. Today, a record 40 percent of recent veterans are seeking medical help, according to the study.

The high number of soldiers diagnosed with mental health problems may also be due to a better understanding of mental health issues among doctors, researchers said.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is also a fairly new diagnosis. The severe anxiety disorder -- where victims may repeatedly relive traumatic events, have difficulty sleeping or withdraw from friends and family -- was first classified as a clinical diagnosis in 1980s, according to Seal. Unlike their counterparts returning from the Vietnam War, today's veterans are more likely to be screened for post-traumatic stress, researchers said.

"Clinicians are more alert and attuned to the possibility of a PTSD diagnosis," Seal said.

Veterans advocates said the new study proves the importance of screening soldiers for mental health problems after they return home.

"The most essential thing to do is to make sure that every single service member gets a exam when they come home," said Paul Sullivan, president of Veterans for Common Sense, a nonprofit organization that supports improving care at veterans facilities.

Sullivan's group is calling on the military to enforce the 1997 Force Health Protection Act, which mandates health screenings for all soldiers. Though the act became law more than a decade ago, it has not been implemented.

"If everyone is examined when they come home, there is no stigma," Sullivan said. "It is the height of responsibility to do the exams -- and the depths of negligence to fail to do the exams."

The new study shows a soldier's age may affect how he handles the stress of war.

When compared to older troops, active-duty soldiers under age 25 were twice as likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder and five times more likely to develop drug problems, according to the study. However, veterans over age 40 who served in the National Guard and Reserves had the highest risk of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

The study also found female soldiers were more likely to suffer from depression than their male counterparts. But men were twice as likely to develop drug problems.

Army veteran Bryan Adams said he was screened in 2005 for mental health problems in Germany at the end of a 13-month tour in Iraq.

A woman in a white lab coat asked him if he needed mental health help while he sat in an open cubicle within earshot of fellow soldiers preparing to go home. Adams declined. He had heard a rumor that the military would hold soldiers who asked for help for an additional six months.

"I just wanted to get the hell out of there," said Adams, 27, of Palmyra.

A year-and-a-half later he went to the VA for help after months of feeling isolated, depressed and anxious. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Among his core group of seven friends from the military, five have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, Adams said. And "two should be," he added.

Adams, a Rutgers student, now works with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America group to raise awareness about PTSD.

"When I look at a lot of my friends I see they have a lot of symptoms," Adams said. "I try and talk to them and tell them to go in to the VA."

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