The Impact of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Military Situations

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The constant threat to life and gruesome sights and sounds of war take their toll on the soldier psychologically as well as physically. A significant number of war veterans suffer from a wide range of debilitating psychological symptoms that vary in duration. For some the symptoms are transient, while for others profound and prolonged psychological and somatic sequelae manifest in the form of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other comorbid conditions. This article reviews current understanding regarding combat stress reaction—often the first indicator of psychological breakdown—and posttraumatic sequelae. The longer-term detrimental consequences of PTSD and the impact of secondary traumatization, reactivation, and delayed-onset PTSD are also addressed.

J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62(suppl 17):11-15