Most veterans with PTSD have other disorders

Most veterans with PTSD have other disorders

Doug Brunk

SAN DIEGO — More than 90% of Vietnam War veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder have a coexisting psychiatric disorder, Chandresh Shah, M.D., reported during a poster session at the American Psychiatric Association’s Institute on Psychiatric Services.

The finding underscores the need to consider psychiatric comorbidities when screening and treating patients for PTSD, including veterans of the current war.

“At one point over time in their lives these patients will come down with depression, anxiety disorder, panic disorder, psychosis, or drug and alcohol problems,” Dr. Shah, assistant chief of psychiatry at the Los Angeles Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic, said in an interview. “Very often PTSD may not exhibit itself as PTSD on day 1. Very often they will have symptoms of mild depression, mild anxiety, sometimes paranoia, or psychosis. It may come across just as a drug and alcohol problem. But as the time goes by, I think the whole symptomatology would evolve into a classical PTSD,” he said.

He and his associates reviewed the medical records of 293 Vietnam War veterans with PTSD who had been in treatment at the clinic for at least 180 days; most (287) were male, and the average age was 55.

Of the 293 veterans, 80% were also diagnosed with depressive disorder, 59% had another anxiety disorder, 30% had a psychotic disorder, and 19% were treated for addiction to drugs or alcohol.

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